Liam Spady, a 22-year-old from Philadephia, has overcome a number of obstacles in his young life. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of his community college, it was just another challenge for him to face.
At the time of the college’s shutdown last spring, Spady had no permanent home. According to “Good Morning America,” he was couch-surfing at the time, and he would spend hours in the campus’s public spaces so he could access the internet and have a quiet place to study with outlets for charging his devices. When everything closed due to the pandemic, all of that access was gone.
The college student was no stranger to housing insecurity. At the age of 16, he entered the city’s foster care system and he continued to encounter housing instability once he aged out of it.
But Spady decided to become part of the solution, and he began pursuing his associate’s degree in culinary arts at the Community College of Philadelphia. Once he started at CCP, he became a member of the Youth Action Board for the Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services.
“I started looking for ways to try to improve the system because my experience was so bad,” he explained in a feature on successful CCP graduates.
While taking classes at CCP and working in a variety of community service organizations, Spady applied to Temple University to pursue his bachelor’s degree. Not only was he accepted, Spady also earned a scholarship. Yet, an all-too-familiar issue stood in his way: Without housing, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to attend the school.
Fortunately, he was able to connect with the Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services, which helped him find an apartment near the Temple University campus in time to start the fall 2020 semester.
Spady is currently studying health education and wants to become a dietician for people in the community. Combining his culinary education from community college with his health studies at Temple, Spady said in the CCP interview that he aims to examine “how people get educated about what foods are healthy.”
“But also I want to be in a management/administration role, setting what those guidelines are and working with nutritionists on mandating what is served in schools and in different places around the city,” he told CCP.
In an interview with Temple News, Spady said that he hopes to help others like him who may not have the resources he’s been blessed to receive.
“It just reminds me of how so many people don’t have [a support system] and how many people might have fallen through the cracks,” Spady said. “It kind of drove me to a passion that I have today, to kind of get into the service field, because it’s just critical that young people don’t feel that way and that nobody feels that way.”