Once homeless and bullied, teen gets full ride to Harvard

An 18-year-old who was once bullied for his smarts is going to Harvard University on a full scholarship.

The Associated Press reported that Richard Jenkins is the valedictorian at Girard College, a Philadelphia boarding school. The teen was in Paris for a school trip when he found out about the scholarship, which pays tuition.

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According to WHYY, Jenkins endured a number of challenges before getting accepted into the Ivy League school. ABC News reported that he and his family were homeless from fourth grade to sixth grade and Jenkins was suffering from migraines from the stress. He was also bullied in school for participating in class.

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“In the sixth grade, one time I was walking from school with my friend, and he was asking me where I lived because his house was right around the corner from where we were. 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.”

Credit: Michael Bryant

Credit: Michael Bryant

Although he had severe migraines that left him hospitalized for weeks at a time, he maintained an “A” average. Around the same time, his father had a heart attack.

“My migraines started in the eighth grade because of all of the stress I was dealing with at the time. There was a lot of pressure to get into high school and succeed,” Jenkins told WHYY. “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.”

Jenkins plans to study computer science at Harvard. CNN reported that his godfather, Donald Kinsey Jr., created a GoFundMe to help with expenses outside of the Harvard scholarship. More than $11,000 has been raised of its $25,000 goal.

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