Florida Homeless Student Becomes Valedictorian With 4.65 GPA

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A homeless student in Jacksonville, Fla., was named the valedictorian of his high school with a 4.65 GPA.

There were times when Griffin Furlong, 18, says he wanted to quit.

“It was horrible." Furlong said. "A kid should not have to go through that."

When his mother died of leukemia was he was six years old, Furlong and his older brother moved to Louisville, Ky., to live with their father. They resided in a homeless shelter for two years.

The family moved to Jacksonville when he was in sixth grade, but they have always experienced financial hardship.

When Furlong found himself homeless again a month ago, his girlfriend’s mother offered to let him stay for three weeks. Then he moved in with his aunt and uncle. Furlong dealt with all of this while maintaining a 4.65 GPA. He was named valedictorian and will graduate on June 4.

"Positive mindset,” he said, WPTV reported. “I try to accomplish everything I need to do. I know that I have everything to lose. So I just push myself. School is all I have, family is all I have. I am doing it all for me and what I have been through. I am doing it for my mom.”

He wants to study civil engineering at Florida State University, where his brother will graduate this summer.

"I wrote him a letter of recommendation, and I said he was the hardest working, most-motivated student I have ever had," said his calculus teacher, Jennifer Stover. "He never missed a day of school, was always at baseball practice and managed to get his homework done every night and always do well."

Furlong applied for academic scholarships but has not had any success.

"It is pretty frustrating. I thought being valedictorian, you should deserve a full scholarship, a full tuition. All I have been able to land were grants. That is need based, so it's pretty tough," Furlong said.

Sources: WPTV, WAFF