Ken Connor

"All the help in the world isn’t going to do you any good if you're not willing to work hard," she said. "I think people were so willing to help me because they saw that I was reaching for my goals, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. . . . I felt like it would be so easy and even acceptable if I were to just say – you know what, I give up, I can’t do this in this situation, but I didn’t. I knew that if I wanted to make something of myself and I didn’t want to live like this when I got older, I had to get it done."

In an age where folks love to play the victim, where the predominating cultural message pushes an attitude of apathy and indignation and the nanny state incentivizes dependency instead of encouraging self-reliance, this young woman pulled herself by the boot straps and defied all expectations. All of us would do well to emulate her initiative, drive, and can-do spirit.

It hasn't been an easy decade for the United States of America. The horrors of 9/11 followed by two grueling wars followed by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression isn't exactly a recipe for prosperity and optimism. Stories like Dawn's remind us, however, that anything is possible with the right attitude and a willingness to work hard. She has the kind of pluck that made our country great. May her tribe increase!

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.