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Friday, January 13, 2012

Teenager Doesn't Let Anything Stop Her Dreams

Photo credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Update: During President Obama's speech last Wednesday at the #DNC, he referred to having met Samantha Garvey. He did not say her name but gave her as an example of someone who would not let homelessness stop her from pursuing her dreams as a researcher.  It seems that he met her after her story was in the news.

The smiling face above is that of Samantha Garvey, a 17 year old from Long Island. She has a lot to be joyful about. Yesterday, I Samantha found out she was chosen as a semifinalist in the prestigious Intel Competition for scientific research. It would be a major accomplishment for any high school student to be one of 300 semifinalists from thousands of entrants from around the USA. What makes Samantha Garvey's accomplishment even more of an inspiration is that she did her research despite the fact that she is homeless.

Obviously she is a very bright teenager, but her IQ alone does not explain her accomplishments. I would love to have her take my Dream Quotient Questionnaire but my guess from what I saw on the video clip is that her DQ would be quite high as well. She did not let the obstacles of homelessness steal her dreams. Yesterday, she said she could not give her family a home, but at least she could please her parents & do well in school. Her parents & teachers have obviously helped her believe in her ability to succeed with hard work & persistence.

Her research focuses on mussels & is a metaphor for her own strength.  She found that when mussels are attacked they develop thicker,  stronger shells. The financial challenges in her family have helped the teen become stronger "skinned." Her positive attitude toward life is truly inspiring.

There is an even happier ending to this story. As I completed this post, I discovered that the publicity from her accomplishments has led to the Department of Social Services in Suffolk County finding a 3 bedroom house where Samantha's family can live. So Samantha is no longer homeless & her hard work has helped her family find a home!

I have always felt that difficult experiences strengthened me & made me more sensitive to others. I always had a home & a loving family, but growing up in a "broken" family when divorce was barely spoken of, was not easy. I knew I needed to work harder to be accepted, never had the latest fashions to wear, but learned to use my creativity, intelligence & hard work to accomplish my dreams.

Have you been strengthened by challenges in your lives? I would love to hear your stories.

See a video clip of Samantha Garvey below:

http://www.newsday.com/video/newsday-video-1.1482431?idno=40031
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