A Teen Graduated at the Top of His Class Despite Being Homeless for 12 Years
A homeless teenager faced daunting challenges during his childhood, yet he defied the odds and graduated as the valedictorian of his class, with an impressive 4.65 grade average.
Meet Griffin Furlong.
It might be assumed that only children from stable households have the opportunity to attain the prestigious distinction of valedictorian (a student who has the highest marks in their class when they graduate from high school, college, or university and who gives a speech at their graduation ceremony). However, Griffin Furlong is shattering that stereotype.
What distinguishes Griffin from other valedictorians is the absence of a stable environment in his life. He and his family have been homeless for the past 12 years. Throughout his high school journey, Griffin never had the luxury of his own bedroom or even a consistent roof over his head. The challenges of being homeless hardly afford a peaceful environment for studying.
How he battled adversities.
Graduating with an impressive 4.65 grade average, Griffin Furlong lost his mother to cancer at a tender age and was raised in a series of homeless shelters alongside his brother, Sean, by their father. His unconventional upbringing often isolated Griffin from his peers. Living in homeless shelters meant he couldn’t host friends and had to take a different bus to school.
Griffin faced taunts from his classmates, but he remained firm, focusing on excelling academically and prioritizing his family. He shared that he had a strategy: to maintain excellent grades and not be concerned about other people.
Griffin also never missed a day of school despite the challenges he faced at home. He was determined and hoping for scholarships to secure a free education. His commitment to education and character left an enduring impression on his teachers, with Jennifer Stover praising him as “a remarkable kid and an excellent student.”
His emotional speech and people’s reaction
In an emotional speech to his fellow graduates at their graduation ceremony, he emphasized the importance of perseverance. He revealed that he performs the way he does in the classroom because he has everything to lose.
Initially, few were aware of the adversity Griffin had faced, as he managed to maintain the appearance of a typical student. However, his compelling story began to unfold as he shared, “Everyone thinks I try to get good grades because I’m smart. Not true... I make the grades I do because I was once lost and had nothing.”
Natalie Donald, a teacher, tearfully confessed, “He’s made straight As across the board in my class, and he never once used his circumstances as a crutch to justify not being able to do anything.”
Help from people who believed in him.
Griffin’s aspiration to pursue civil engineering at Florida State University received an encouraging boost when a GoFundMe campaign raised over $91,000 for his college fund. Expressing gratitude, Griffin expressed his desire to establish a scholarship fund to aid students in similar circumstances to his own.
His remarkable journey, marked by resilience and academic excellence, has inspired his peers and teachers alike. Despite facing hard times and isolation, Griffin’s commitment to his studies never wavered. Griffin’s older brother, Sean, stood proud of his younger sibling and their shared experiences forged a strong bond.
Recalling their journey, Sean remembered that he couldn’t tell his friends what they were going through. And reflected, “It was mainly just me and Griffin, and we did everything together, baseball especially. He’s just a really tough individual. He’s younger than me, but I still look up to him.”
Undoubtedly, Griffin has a promising future, and his father must be immensely proud of his achievements.