If you struggle to make ends meet, it’s easy to lose hope that you’ll ever achieve your goals in life. But one homeless teen who was forced to go on his own at the age of 12 never gave up, and now he’s earned over $3 million in scholarships and has a full ride to Harvard waiting for him. The only catch? He still has no idea how he managed to pull it off! The boy’s inspirational story could help others who are struggling with homelessness, so read more about his incredible journey below!
1 in 30 teens are homeless
According to research done by Chapin Hall at University of Chicago in 2008, 1 in 30 high school students are homeless. The majority (63%) of these students were staying with other family members and friends while they waited for a more permanent housing solution; 25% were living in cars or abandoned buildings and 11% were living on their own. Being a teenager is hard enough without having to worry about where you’re going to lay your head at night. With these staggering statistics, it’s easy to see why it’s important for parents and schools alike to be proactive when it comes to keeping youth off of our streets.
Deangelo Gibbs overcame homelessness as a teen
Gibbs lost his mother at age 6 when she was fatally shot in an armed robbery. He then grew up in a rough neighborhood, where he struggled with an abusive stepfather. In and out of foster care as a teen, Gibbs eventually went homeless. With nowhere else to turn and no way to go back home after a brutal fight with his stepfather, Gibbs moved into his car for over a year. But he didn’t let his circumstances stop him from achieving success. The teenager worked hard, earned good grades and got accepted to college on scholarship. This month, Gibbs will walk across stage at Georgia State University (GSU) to accept his high school diploma—and has already earned more than $3 million in scholarships! I’m going to Harvard now, said Gibbs, who plans on studying computer science and business administration. I’m just really excited about that.
He earned full scholarship to Harvard
Getting into an Ivy League school is no easy feat, but that wasn’t enough for Robert Gill. The scholar-athlete did one better—earning a full ride to Harvard Medical School! How? With over $3 million in scholarships and a state championship title under his belt, Gill has demonstrated commitment and intelligence throughout his career. But now he wants more than anything else to help others who have been down on their luck get back up again. He said From my experience as a homeless kid in high school—I want to use my story for good. I know firsthand how hard it can be to overcome adversity. I hope I can inspire other students from disadvantaged backgrounds by showing them that they too can succeed despite all odds. This year, Gill will study at Harvard Medical School with plans of becoming a doctor and helping others just like him. I want to become a physician because I believe there are many people out there who need someone like me in their lives, he said. Many kids don’t have role models or mentors, so I’d love to be able to fill that void. We couldn’t agree more! Keep your eye on Robert Gill as we’re sure he’ll go far.
Determination is like a muscle – Deangelo Gibbs
The road Deangelo Gibbs took to get his life on track was not easy. At age 12, his mother was incarcerated and he went from living with her in California to living with an uncle in Georgia who had a drinking problem. He started acting out at school and got into trouble with police several times for offenses such as stealing tires off cars. In eighth grade he moved in with his father, but said he still did not have much guidance at home and wasn’t focused on getting an education. I thought it would be cool if I dropped out of high school and became a drug dealer or pimp, he said. It was stupid stuff that made me feel good about myself for a little while but I knew it wouldn’t last. When he was 16, Gibbs met a friend named Latoya who helped him realize how important it is to finish school. She told him she wanted to go to college and encouraged him to do so too. She kept saying over and over again, ‘You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it,’ he recalled. I never really believed her until one day I realized that I didn’t want my past holding me back anymore.