Homeless man has hope for new future with college education

Out of homelessness and into a new future.

BOISE -- Stepping out of homelessness and into the life of a college student, Justin Anderson has never really had a house to call home.

As of this week, the 28-year-old is living on campus at Boise State University and taking this task on with the help of the community.

Anderson is getting a second chance at life and working hard to make it happen. He does not have any family to support his journey financially, but he received enough financial aid and grants that he says he will be debt-free this semester.

"It's nice to come back and have a key to your own place," Anderson said.

Justin says the difference between where he is today and where he was a few months ago is night and day.

He was living in hotel rooms in Nevada with his dad most of his life and doesn't speak to his mom. He decided to move to Idaho four years ago to seek a different life and has been homeless since, spending his nights at Interfaith Sanctuary Shelter in Boise.

"I learned from other people's mistakes and I didn't want to make their same mistakes. I wanted to be an actual success story," Justin told KTVB.

Today, he is a success story. Eight months ago, Justin decided to get his GED and apply to Boise State. His dream is to become a computer scientist with a focus on cyber security.

With donations and motivation from Interfaith Sanctuary, Justin can pursue that dream with a sense of normalcy.

Sanctuary gave him everything from brand new clothes to school supplies, and a Boise company donated a crucial tool for school- a Mac Book.

"Everything was fresh. New start, new stuff."

Because Justin did so well in Interfaith's shelter transition exit plan, or "STEP" program, a Boise dentist decided to donate a new smile.

"It's all free of charge," Tree City Family Dentist Dr. Duston Connaughton told KTVB. "I mean, I think everybody deserves a second chance."

"When you're homeless you sometimes don't care about the way you look," Anderson explained.

Dr. Connaughton says he's eager to give back and help Justin on his journey.

"He wants to look like somebody who belongs on a college campus, and being comfortable and confident in your smile is a huge part of that," the dentist added.

Justin was in pain because of issues with his mouth and Dr. Connaughton didn't want him to worry about that anymore. So far, some problem teeth have been removed to make Justin healthier; the final plan being fixing the aesthetics of his teeth.

"Your first impression of somebody is your smile," Justin said.

This is a big boost to help him take that next stride forward.

"If you take it inch by inch, life is a cinch. If you take it mile by mile, life is a trial," Anderson added.

He is attending class Monday through Thursday at BSU and working part time at the Egyptian Theatre downtown to help him earn money for college.

Justin says he couldn't have done it without Interfaith's STEP program. To find out how you can help people like Justin trying to get out of homelessness, head to Interfaith's donation page.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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