Photo via: CNBC
From being homeless to receiving a full ride scholarship to Harvard University, Richard Jenkins is an incredible example of what can happen when you stay the course, despite adversity or opposition.
For the 18-year-old Philadelphia student, adversity came early in life when his mother lost their home to foreclosure, resulting in Jenkins being homeless from the fourth to sixth grade. However, while living in a shelter during his sixth grade year, Jenkins developed a drive to use academics to change his circumstances.
“That was what triggered me that I needed to chase something,” Jenkins 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.”
From that moment on, Jenkins, who was already excelling in school, applied himself even more to earn good grades. Even while enduring school bullies and severe migraines, which put him in the hospital during his freshman year, Jenkins remained determined to succeed academically. His mother ended up placing him in Girard College, a Philadelphia boarding school for gifted students that offers reduced admission for single-parent homes.
Photo via: CNN
Jenkins continued to excel at Girard, joining 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,” according to CNN.
Jenkins went on to apply to some of the nation’s top schools, like Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, who denied and wait-listed him respectively. However, Harvard not only accepted him, but offered him a full academic scholarship. Now, Jenkins will be graduating as his school’s valedictorian and headed to an Ivy League university to study computer science, with a special interest in artificial intelligence.
For young people who are also facing obstacles, Jenkins told ABC News: “Figure out what it is that you want to work for, like why do you want to follow your dreams? “Why do you want to search for that thing that you want? What is driving you to do that? Once you know what that is, focus on the goal because the goal is what’s going get you through those times.”
Jenkins’ godfather, Donald Kinsey Jr., started a GoFund campaign to help his Harvard-bound godson with additional expenses.