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Once-homeless high schooler earns full-ride scholarship to Harvard

ABC News
ABC News

PHILADELPHIA – A once-homeless Philadelphia high school student dubbed "Harvard" by his bullies for his smarts is now headed to the Ivy League school on a full-ride scholarship.

Richard Jenkins told ABC News that his accomplishment is a testament to faith and hard work.

“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 said.

Jenkins, who was homeless from fourth to sixth grade, credited his success to five years of writing classes at Mighty Writers. The education nonprofit provides free writing classes to inner-city kids, according to ABC News.

Jenkins told ABC News that the classes gave him the confidence to write essays for his college applications. He said Harvard is just the first step toward a career in computer science and, perhaps, one day creating the first sentient artificial intelligence program. 

“Figure out what it is that you want to work for, like why do you want to follow your dreams?" Jenkins said. "Why do you want to search for that thing that you want? What is driving you to do that? Once you know what that is, focus on the goal because the goal is what’s gonna get you through those times.”

Jenkins will graduate as valedictorian of Girard College, a five-day boarding school that serves first- through 12th-graders.