A few weeks ago I came across a video in my Facebook feed of a 16-year-old getting accepted into Harvard. Wearing the prestigious university’s garb, he was surrounded by friends and classmates.
As the room erupted into excitement, I got — and still get — warm and fuzzy waves as if I, too, got to take part in this youth’s accomplishment. Apparently, I was one of over 8 million.
Ayrton Little of Opelousas, Louisiana, earned a full scholarship to the school of his dreams. I missed the video where his brother, 18-year-old Alex Little, in the same fashion, learned of his acceptance and full ride to his school-of-choice, Stanford.
On Jan. 5 the boys were invited onto “The Ellen Show” to tell the world a little more about their astonishing accomplishment. As it turned out, the boys have not had a picture-perfect past that protected them from educational roadblocks.
Raised by single mother Maureen Little, the boys faced poverty including a house without heat, repossessions, and near homelessness. A couple years back, the family suffered the sudden loss of the boys’ younger brother.
Although it wasn’t easy, the boys kept their focus and maintained the highest GPAs in their classes throughout. Maureen did her best to shield her sons from knowledge of how precarious their situation was.
“The one thing I didn’t have to worry about was them and their grades,” a proud Maureen confirmed. Self-motivated, Alex understood at an early age that education was his only way out of poverty and set the example for his younger brother, who followed in suit.
The boys explained that checking your acceptance status as depicted in the viral video is a tradition at their school. They admit that it can be nerve wracking as no one knows what will happen and obviously everyone doesn’t have such joyous news.
Alex posted his video to his Twitter account simply to share a proud moment. He was surprised by the traction, then excited by how much other people were getting excited for him.
Ayrton commented that part of the shock in all of this is realizing that his whole life has been dedicated to getting into Harvard. Now he needs to establish a new goal.
They both have some initial plans. Alex would like to work in Silicon Valley contributing to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field, while Ayrton wants to be on Wall Street.
Both boys want to start non-profits that support children getting into higher education and their respective fields of interest.
With so much already taken care of, there was little left for Ellen to do. Then, she shocked the boys and the audience with gift card packages to fully furnish their dorm rooms this fall.
Not finished, Ellen took special time to acknowledge Maureen, who’d only expected to be a guest in the show’s audience. Instead, she was brought onto stage for a surprise of her very own.
While the boys’ accomplishment is their own, the strength and support of Maureen was not over looked. In partnership with Shutterfly, Ellen presented the inspiring mother with a check for $20,000.
Watching the segment on Ellen was just as touching as their viral videos. You could see how much the boys loved their mom by their expression when she spoke of both their struggle and her pride at their achievements.
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