College Graduate With No Family Or Support System Is On Month 6 Of Being Homeless

She's proof that even an elite college degree isn't the ticket to success it once was.

homeless college graduate Roman Bodnarchuk / Shutterstock

Most of us have been told that high achievement and a college degree are the ticket to success. But the longer time rolls on, the more that claim proves to be mostly a fantasy.

A 25-year-old TikToker and aspiring engineer named Dominique is a perfect example, and her harrowing story says everything about what's happened to the American economy and job market.

The homeless college graduate is on month six of living in shelters and hostels because she can't find a job.

Dominique, known as @dominiqueengineer on TikTok, is a 25-year-old graduate of the University of Michigan, one of the most elite and prestigious public universities in the country. Her degree was supposed to be a ticket to a good job in the field of engineering. 




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But that has not been Dominique's experience. "I've been homeless for quite some time. I'm ready to work full-time. I just can't get a job, for some reason," she said in a recent video. "I don't know what else to do."


Dominique said she has no family or support, few friends, and "I'm autistic too, which makes that even more fun." Her post-collegiate life was so harrowing that she's losing hope. "I don't know what to do because I can't keep doing this," she said. 

The homeless college graduate fears she's gotten trapped in the cycle of poverty and will never find her way out.

"I think that I know that I'm stuck in a cycle of poverty right now and I don't see a way out," Dominique said. "I don't have any money, I don't have anywhere to live, and I can't get a job. Even if I were to get a job, I don't have money to live, so I don't have a place to sleep. I don't have anything."

In economics, the cycle of poverty refers to a vicious pattern of self-reinforcing economic, social, and psychological factors that add up to a situation in which without intervention, a poor person will typically remain poor, no matter how hard they try to lift themselves out of it.


Dominique's situation is a perfect example. She got a degree but can't find a job so she's homeless. Without a job, she can't lift herself from poverty. Many jobs won't even let you apply without a permanent address, which she lacks. 

But she can't get a permanent address without a job. And around and around we go and that doesn't even take into account the multiple emergencies that could arise to cause even more hardship, like sickness, an accident, or being the victim of crime on the streets.

"I'm at the point where I feel like I'm really losing myself," she said. She further worried she was one mishap from "just [becoming] another homeless person." 


"I guess before I'm just like another homeless person that gets carried away … I just wanted to, I don't know, say, hey, ask for help … I was premed in college. I graduated 3.71. I've done everything I can, man. I don't know what else to do."

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Dominique's video inspired a lot of backlash that showed how poorly understood homelessness and poverty really are.

Many people questioned Dominique's story for the silliest reasons possible. Many scolded her for not taking whatever job she could get her hands on, but as she explained that was not the solution. 

"I don't really have the privilege of starting a job that's going to pay me $13 an hour, which I probably won't even get, and then waiting a month for a paycheck that's not even going to support [me]," she said. 




Such a job would of course preclude her from applying to jobs that actually would provide a livable wage. And when you're in the depth of crisis, a minimum-wage job is no real solution. 

As she put it, "Working a full-time, minimum wage job that won't even give me a place to sleep … is not going to advance me forward."

People also criticized her for having her hair done and owning a cell phone. The former she did herself every two months for $20. The latter cost her $50 a month. And crucially, she can't get a job without either.




Keeping her hair neat keeps her from "looking like a homeless person" in the judgmental eyes of most people, which allows her to seem more employable and avoid much of the harassment homeless people endure. 

And as for the phone? Cell phones have not been luxury toys for decades at this point. As Dominique put it, "The only way to be able to get a job is if you have a cell phone. Homeless people still need a cell phone."

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But others online stepped up in a big way to help Dominique, and it made a huge difference. 

After Dominique's video went viral, tons of people reached out to offer her the help she asked for. Online donors were able to extend her stay at a hostel and provided her with a hotel room for a week after her time at the hostel ran out. 



Just days after posting her plea for help, Dominique also found a job. "A company reached out after seeing my videos and they are being extremely kind and flexible with me," she reported. 

The job was just part-time, and not in her field, but it was a start. "Obviously, it's not an engineering job, but due to their willingness to actually work with me, it's going to give me time to still be able to earn money, pursue engineering, and not be completely mentally and physically drained," she said. 


She also got tons of referrals from viewers willing to share her resume and introduce her to their business networks. "I've had a lot of meetings as well, and I've definitely had quite a few promising opportunities," she said, "so I'm way more optimistic than I was."

"I'm so glad I did just come on here and be completely candid about my experience because before I posted that video, I was really just sitting here like, this is really it for me because I did everything that I can on my own. You know what I mean?" 

Her story is a testament to the power of being willing to ask for help, and especially being willing to offer aid to those who need it.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.