From Homeless to Harvard, Student Inspires Others to Achieve Their Dreams

March 19, 2019 Updated: March 24, 2019

Going from being homeless to a full ride into Harvard may seem like an impossibility, but for one student, his family’s difficult circumstances motivated him to do the best that he could.

Richard Jenkins, 18, from Philadelphia, was often taunted as a kid for being the one who always raised his hand in class to ask the teacher questions. The bully kids later dubbed him “Harvard.” “It was their way of taunting me, like, ‘Oh, you think you’re so smart,” he told CNN. He now has the last laugh though as this young high school graduate has earned a place at Harvard on a full scholarship.

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His childhood years were not without stress, as poverty struck them soon after their family home was foreclosed. Together with his mom and two younger brothers, they became homeless for two years, having moved to Tennessee and then to Florida before going back to Philadelphia.

While living in a shelter with his family in sixth grade, Jenkins was struck with the thought that if he applied himself to his studies, his family could be lifted out of poverty and homelessness. “That was what triggered me that I needed to chase something,” he said. “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.”

Richard Jenkins III 发布于 2017年5月22日周一

His determination to succeed was fired up by his family’s dire situation.

Jenkins recalled the time when he told a friend that his family lived in a mansion because he was too embarrassed to say otherwise.

“In the sixth grade, one time I was walking from school with my friend, and he was asking me where I lived,” he told radio station WHYY. “The shelter looked like a big house—it could have been a mansion. So I told him, ‘Yeah, that’s my house right there,’ because I was so embarrassed to say I lived in a shelter.”

Richard Jenkins III 发布于 2014年3月23日周日

Two years later, his health began to decline when he began to suffer from severe debilitating migraines. “There was a lot of pressure to get into high school and succeed. And then my dad had a heart attack. In the summer of the eighth grade it got really bad. I got hospitalized; they put me on every medicine they had. But I was eventually able to fight through it and get my work done, because at the end of the day, that was what was the most important to me,” he said.

Richard Jenkins III 发布于 2017年5月22日周一

His hard work came to fruition when he was accepted on a full scholarship with board to Girard College, a high school for students from single-parent families. With all straight As, he was named his class valedictorian.

Valedictorian Richard Jenkins will be attending Harvard University this fall on a full-ride scholarship. Viral for his…

Girard College 发布于 2018年6月27日周三

After applying to several colleges, he was rejected by Yale and waitlisted at the University of Pennsylvania. Harvard was on his list too: “I checked Yale and I got denied. In the back of my head I’m already thinking, ‘Okay, Harvard’s going to deny me too,’” he said.

Feeling slightly defeated, Jenkins then opened the Harvard tab on his web browser and could not believe his eyes—a link to a video that read: “Welcome to the class of 2022.”

Richard Jenkins III 发布于 2018年3月24日周六

“I was talking to my girlfriend; I threw my phone!” he added.

Jenkins plans to major in computer science: “I want to create a more intuitive Siri.”

Richard Jenkins III 发布于 2018年3月24日周六

He has some words of wisdom for other aspiring students: “Stay focused and on the right track. The right track can be different for a lot of people but basically what you want to work toward, you need to be focused on that.”

From Homeless To Harvard On A Full Ride

From HOMELESS To Harvard University On A FULL Ride…It is a dream come true for Girard College High School Senior Richard Jenkins III. The 18-year from Philadelphia says his family struggled a lot financially when he was younger. They lived in a shelter in the Germantown section for a time. He remembers lying to a friend about being homeless, because he felt ashamed. In 6th grade, he says, that all changed. He decided he wanted more. He was tired of being poor, and made a conscious decision to focus on academics. He was smart, and he felt that was his chance at a better life. Richard studied hard. He loved to read. It was his escape from his harsh reality. Kids actually bullied Richard for doing well in class. They resented that he always had his hand up,and was eager to soak up as much knowledge as he could. The bullies even called him “Harvard” as a dig, because he was such a book worm. Well, the joke is on them now, because that is where Richard is going to college in the fall! Yes, Richard will be attending the prestigious Ivy League School on a full ride! Take that, bullies!!Richard says his essay to Harvard was entitled Dragon Slayer. He wrote about the obstacles he’d overcome. His says at first he didn’t think Harvard was an option, but he got a promotional email as a junior from the University, and thought why not. He learned kids whose families who make under 65,000 a year can go for free, if they can get in. As he said to me, “Game On!”Richard learned that he got into Harvard while on a Girard College High School trip to Paris. He was elated as you can imagine, and called everyone in his family to tell them the unbelievable news, HE WAS GOING TO HARVARD UNIVERSITY!! Richard says his mom knew he would go there. He loves his mom a lot, and credits her with instilling the drive he needs to go places. He says when he was younger, books and the written word took him to places he never dreamed of. Now he going places, For Real!! Richard graduates June 7th from Girard College High School in North Philadelphia. It’s a full scholarship boarding school that has helped prepare him for his journey. He is the class valedictorian, no surprise, right?!. To say he is impressive, is an understatement. Here is the story that aired on FOX 29 News. Congrats young man, and keep up the good work. Richard’s Uncle has set up a Go Fund Me Page, to help with college expenses not covered by his financial aid. Here’s the link if you’d like to contribute:https://www.gofundme.com/he039s-headed-to-harvard.Special Thanks To Fox 29's Shane McEachern For An Extraordinary Job Shooting and Editting This Story.

Dawn Timmeney FOX 29 发布于 2018年5月23日周三

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