In 1984, Milliardaire Syverain was in the midst of a grueling journey—one that looked like it wasn’t going to end well.

Soon after arriving in this country from Haiti at age 19, his parents abandoned him. He was living in public housing at the foot of Mission Hill and his job prospects were bleak. That’s when he found a flier on his doorstep, inviting residents of Boston public housing to apply for scholarships to Northeastern.