(RNN) – An 18-year-old, who spent part of his childhood in homeless shelters, was accepted to Harvard last week with a full ride.
Richard “Tre” Jenkins was picked on for being smart, his bullies called him “Harvard,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
“I view it as like, a symbol that hard work does pay off, and also that faith pays off as well because I had faith in myself that I could do something like that, not even that I could go to Harvard but that life would work out for me, like things would get better,” Jenkins told ABC.
Jenkins is the valedictorian at his prestigious boarding school Girard College where he received a full scholarship for students who come from single-parent homes.
His mother, Quiana McLaughlin, moved from Philadelphia at one point to get her children out of the violence of their neighborhoods. For two years, the family would live in motels, or in homeless shelters if they couldn’t afford the motels.
Jenkins, who also suffers from serious migraines, said his desire to get out of poverty motivated him to do well in school.
He was walking home from school one day with friends who all pointed to where they lived. Jenkins was in a homeless shelter that looked like a regular house. He pointed to it, saying, “That’s my place over there.”
Embarrassed for lying, he decided to work to make his life better.
Jenkins credits the program Mighty Writers, a nonprofit that provides writing classes to inner-city children in Philadelphia for free. The program serves about 3,000 students.
— Mighty Writers (@MightyWriters) May 25, 2018
“Mighty Writers was very helpful to me because it helped me gain a sense of confidence with my writing skill because essays are a huge part of the college application process, and had it not been for Mighty Writers honing what some would call just raw skill in writing, I don’t think that my essays would’ve been as good as they could’ve been,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins wants to study artificial intelligence in college. His scholarship will cover tuition and room and board. A GoFundMe page is set up to help with additional expenses.
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