Alexis Jade Ferguson

The first individual in his family to go to college, Doug Luffborough, P.h.D., now uses his time as a motivational speaker, giving presentations to inspire dedication and hard work among youth. On Wednesday, September 6, Luffborough delivered a speech to over 200 underclassmen in the Bonita Vista High school gym. He recounted his life’s hardships starting as a homeless student in high school and advancing into a Harvard graduate.

His well-renowned acronym, “P.A.S.S.I.O.N.,” serves as a model for students to pursue great achievements in their lives. The Passion of leadership, Attitude, Self-discipline, Sacrifice, Integrity, Optimism and Never Giving Up represent the epitome of what Luffborough believes in. Luffborough argues that having an optimistic attitude and persevering in the face of endeavor are the keys to success.

“There are sacrifices you need to make to get to where you want to go in life. When I was homeless, I decided I wanted to go to college so I had to get up an hour earlier to take two buses to get to school from a motel I was staying in. When I was a senior in high school, homeless and on the street, I was doing the best I ever did academically,” Luffborough said.

BVH’s Tutor, Educate and Motivate program, an organization dedicated to providing students with additional educational resources after school, attended Luffborough’s presentation on campus alongside the organizer of the event, Interventions Coordinator Steven Wiggs.

“Life is a matter of choice. Whatever choice you make is the life you live. It’s not on me. It’s not on the people here at your school. It’s not on your parents,” Luffborough said. “It’s on you. It starts with self-discipline.”

Luffborough received an undergraduate degree from Northeastern University and pursued his graduate degree in medicine at Harvard University. After writing his personal essay, retelling his experiences as a homeless senior in high school and achieving straight A’s in all of his classes, Luffborough and his younger brother both decided to apply to Harvard. Luffborough’s mother continues to serve as a model of motivation and perseverance to her sons. Despite not attending college herself, she pushed her children to attain their dreams.

“Overall, I thought he was very inspirational, especially because of his prior commitment to his family, considering his impoverished upbringing. I thought it was a very good idea to bring him on campus to speak to the members of the program,” junior and tutor Cristian Piamonte said.

Members of the audience expressed their emotions regarding Luffborough’s speech, especially concerning his journey from being a young boy with a speaking disability to an Ivy League alumnus.

“I wanted to go to the presentation because I wanted to see Luffborough’s mindset on how he achieved his goals. I think students can take hard work and dedication from his speech. No one in this community ever thought anyone like him would be able to go to Harvard or college at all, but he ended up doing that,” freshman Diego Aranda said.

Luffborough is now a doctor and hopes to serve as a paradigm of determination and accomplishment for his own daughter. After many of his peers and high school guidance counselor telling him he could not achieve his goals, Luffborough persists in believing that an individual must not allow others to define his or her reality.

“I knew that my life mattered and so does yours. Live out the negativity that other people have told you. We have to be really careful with who we surround ourselves with, who we allow to penetrate our hearts,” Luffborough said. “Whatever you decide to do with your life, I hope you never forget the passion of leadership. Remember, it always starts with you.”