Tag: homeless teens

Richard Jenkins, 18, Once Homeless, to Attend Harvard University on a Full Scholarship

Harvard-bound high school senior Richard Jenkins (photo via cnn.com)

by Isabella Gomez and Justin Lear via cnn.com

When he was a kid, Richard Jenkins raised his hand in class so often bullies started calling him “Harvard.”

“It was their way of taunting me, like, ‘Oh, you think you’re so smart,” he said. As it turns out, he was. Now, after overcoming a challenging childhood, the high school senior from Philadelphia is headed to Harvard University on a full scholarship.

Jenkins, 18, faced a multitude of difficulties growing up, including poverty, medical emergencies and harassment from his classmates. But he turned these obstacles into motivation to create a better future for himself and his family. He and his two younger brothers were homeless for two years after their mother lost their home to foreclosure, forcing them to move to Tennessee and then to Florida before heading back to Philadelphia.

He remembers living in a shelter during the sixth grade and realizing academics could become his way out. “That was what triggered me that I needed to chase something,” he told CNN. “No matter what, I can’t allow myself to go through that anymore. I can’t allow my brothers or my mother to go through that when they’re older.”

Upping his game

Although schoolwork had always come naturally to him, Jenkins began studying harder to hone his curiosity and earn good grades. He excelled in his classes and developed a strong interest in technology. Despite suffering from severe migraines, which landed him in the hospital during his freshman year, Jenkins stayed on top of his schoolwork.

When his mother learned there was an opening in the eleventh-grade class at Girard College, a Philadelphia boarding school for gifted students from single-parent households in need, she encouraged him to apply.

Quiana McLaughlin told CNN she liked the extracurricular opportunities the school had to offer and was thrilled when her son was accepted.

There, Jenkins joined the mock trial program, the World Affairs Council and the basketball team. He also started Makers’ Space Club, an area with 3D printers, sewing machines and other DIY equipment students can use to bring their ideas to life. “He is so creative and he loves taking the initiative to do something,” said Hye Kyong Kim, a tech coordinator at the school, who had Jenkins in her class last fall.

As college application season came, Jenkins decided to try Harvard — along with other Ivy League schools — after receiving an email from them.

He was visiting Paris on a school trip in late March when he learned of the schools’ decisions.

Continue reading “Richard Jenkins, 18, Once Homeless, to Attend Harvard University on a Full Scholarship”

Fred Barley, 19, Bikes 6 Hours to Get to College, Sleeps in Tent Until Helped by Police and Community

Fred Barley (photo via wsbtv.com)
Fred Barley (photo via wsbtv.com)

article by Hope Jensen via wsbtv.com

At just 19 years old, Fred Barley has proven he knows what he wants out of life and he’ll do anything to make it happen.  Officers found the teen sleeping in a tent over the weekend outside Gordon State College in Barnesville, GA. Instead of giving him a ticket for trespassing, the officers listened to his story – and that’s where this amazing story begins.

Barley, a homeless college student, told the officers he had ridden his little brother’s bike six hours from Conyers to Barnesville to register for classes for his second semester of college. He had two duffel bags carrying all he owned and 2 gallons of water as he rode through the heat of a Georgia summer.

Problem is, the Gordon State College campus dorms don’t open until August, so Barley pitched a tent in some bushes on campus and prepared to spend the next few weeks there, with nothing more than a box of cereal to eat.

Barley spent the day job-searching and had just returned to his tent Saturday night when officers responded to a  report of someone sleeping in a tent on campus. They told Barley to come out with his hands up, but the officers quickly realized that something wasn’t right. They sat down with Barley, who told them his story.

The biology major, who dreams of going to medical school one day, told the officers he thought the bushes on campus would be a much safer place for him to sleep than staying in his tent in Conyers. “We can’t allow you to stay here, but I have somewhere you can stay.”

“He was so understanding and he said, ‘I definitely I applaud you for doing this. We can’t allow you to stay here, but I have somewhere you can stay,’” Barley told Channel 2 Action News.

Without a second thought, the officers took him to a local motel and paid for his next two nights.  “The stuff that’s happening with police officers, I am black and he didn’t care what color I was. He just helped me, and that meant a lot,” Barley said.

That could be the end of this story, but it was only just the beginning. Continue reading “Fred Barley, 19, Bikes 6 Hours to Get to College, Sleeps in Tent Until Helped by Police and Community”

Homeless Teen Destyni Tyree is Voted Prom Queen, Cheerleading Captain Earns 4.0 GPA and Full College Scholarship

Destiny Tyree (photo via bet.com)

article by Evelyn Diaz via bet.com

Talk about Black Girls Rock.

Destyni Tyree was living in a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C., when the 14-year-old girl enrolled in Roosevelt S.T.A.Y. High School. Two years later, she graduated with a 4.0 GPA, was appointed captain of the school’s cheerleading squad and voted prom queen — all while working a 25-hour per week job.

What’s more, she has secured a full scholarship to Potomac State College of West Virginia University and will continue her education in August. Her next stop after college is surely world domination.

The principal of Roosevelt S.T.A.Y., Eugenia Young, told ABC that Tyre is “a joy to be around, she has a good heart.” She continued to call Tyree a “bubbly person” and a “phenomal student.”

For Tyree, the hard life that she grew up in only served as motivation to secure academic success. “Quite frankly, I’m just ready to go and live life,” she said in an interview with ABC. “I know there’s a better life out there for me. It gets better. If you work hard enough, if you have that drive, if you have that motivation, it gets a lot better.” She continued to describe how she was able to achieve so much in such little time, saying, “I just time managed. I just wake up and do what I gotta do.”

Girls From Displaced Families Get Introduction to College and Engineering at Cal State Long Beach

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Courtney Shumate, 10, of Compton, is spending a week living at Cal State Long Beach, learning about college life and engineering. Twenty-nine girls participated in the program August 8, 2013, in Long Beach. During this workshop, the participants built prosthetic arms. (Francine Orr, Los Angeles Times / August 7, 2013)

Submerged underwater, a robot built out of PVC pipes snaked back and forth near some foam “sea sponges.”  Next to the small wading pool, 11-year-old Nailah Lewis intently worked a set of controls on top of a wired plastic box. Her electrical engineering experiment had entered its final testing phase.  The task: Design a tool to pick up objects underwater.  Around the pool, a group of young girls leaned over the edge, dangling their hands in the water and shouting encouragement. Nailah’s 8-year-old sister, Ayailah, called out: “Come on, Ni Ni!”

Watching proudly nearby with a camera in hand was Nailah’s mother, Dana Lewis, 39, who is determined to see her both young daughters go to college.  She found a positive motivating force in a new Cal State Long Beach program.  The program, “Engineering Girls — It Takes a Village,” is unusual in its focus on recruiting young girls, ages 9 to 15, from displaced families.  Over the last four months, school officials worked with the Century Villages at Cabrillo, a transitional housing community, to recruit girls and bring them to the university in August for one week of engineering workshops.

Officials said that the program, which began Aug. 5 and ended Sunday, was specifically designed for girls because the engineering field is dominated by men. But coordinators also aimed to expose an underrepresented community with limited opportunities in science, math and engineering.  It came along with a full taste of college life, with the girls sleeping in the dorms and eating three all-you-can-eat meals a day.

Of the 29 girls who participated, 25 came from homeless families. All were African American, and most lived in single-parent homes.  Three were being raised by their grandparents.  “A lot of these girls are underprivileged, so an experience like this not only changes and impacts their lives, but re-creates their future,” said Lewis, who was one of several women who accompanied their daughters and participated in the program. Lewis moved into the Villages with her mother and two daughters when it opened five years ago.

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