From Homeless to Harvard

Lalita Booth used to be homeless. Now she's persuing a Master's degree at Harvard.
Everyone has baggage, but Lalita Booth'sis heavier than most.

CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports Booth can laugh now, but as a young teen she nearly destroyed her life.

Raised in Ashville, N.C., the rebellious teen says her problems all began when her parents divorced and she was sexually abused by a family acquaintance.

"That led to substance abuse, staying out all night long, and running away," Booth said.

By the time she was 18, she'd been legally emancipated from her parents, married, and had a baby.

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"When my ex joined the Army, I was responsible for taking care of myself with only a GED and no relevant job skills," Booth said.

Penniless and living out of a car, she gave up her son Kieren to his father's parents.

"I would cry myself to sleep because I missed him so much," Booth said.

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That's when she grew up. She enrolled in a community college, then transferred to a four-year university. An honors student, Booth's inspiring story captured headlines.

By then, she learned to really dream big and another door opened. Booth was accepted to one of the most elite and the oldest of the Ivy Leagues: Harvard University. The 29-year-old Booth is earning a Master's degree in business and public policy.

"It's an amazing feeling," Booth said. She financed her education through 20 scholarships totaling more than half a million dollars. Now she spends her time on Capitol Hill, where she lobbies for single mothers.

Lalita is remarried and has her son back. She'll tell you, whatever baggage she once carried seems a lot lighter now.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is the co-host of "CBS This Morning: Saturday." As an award-winning correspondent based in New York, she has reported for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. She joined CBS News in 2004.