Homeless high school student becomes class valedictorian
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CNN) - A homeless high school student in Florida has been named valedictorian. Griffin Furlong lost his mother to leukemia at age 6, and soon after that, lived with his father and older brother in a homeless shelter for two years in Louisville, KY.
"At some point I wanted to quit. It was horrible." Furlong said. "A kid should not have to go through that."
His family moved to Jacksonville, FL when he was in 6th grade. They lived in a rental house but it was always a financial struggle, often having little to eat and constantly having to depend on family members for help. A month ago, with finals and AP tests still ahead, he found himself homeless again.
His girlfriend's mother put him up for three weeks, then he moved in with an aunt and uncle. Through all this, he ended up with a 4.65 GPA and will graduate as valedictorian on June 4.
"Positive mindset. I try to accomplish everything I need to do. I know that I have everything to lose. So I just push myself. School is all I have, family is all I have. I am doing it all for me and what I have been through. I am doing it for my mom," Furlong said.
Furlong says he always wrote in his baseball cap every season, never give up. Furlong just turned 18 May 5, just got a state ID Wednesday, and will soon get his driver's license.
He plans on studying civil engineering at Florida State University, where his brother will graduate this summer. "I wrote him a letter of recommendation, and I said he was the hardest working, most-motivated student I have ever had," said Jennifer Stover, his calculus teacher. "He never missed a day of school, was always at baseball practice and managed to get his homework done every night and always do well."
Furlong has received some money to help with college expenses, and a housing discount, but it is nowhere near enough to meet his expenses. He has applied for academic scholarships, but so far hasn't gotten any good news.
"It is pretty frustrating. I thought being valedictorian, you should deserve a full scholarship, a full tuition. All I have been able to land were grants. That is need based, so it's pretty tough," Furlong said.
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