Homeless high school student Griffin Furlong to graduate valedictorian

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Griffin Furlong, 18, found himself homeless as he studied for finals and AP tests.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Griffin Furlong overcame a lot of obstacles to become the valedictorian at a Jacksonville, Florida, high school. As he studied for finals and AP tests, he found himself homeless - again.

"At some point I wanted to quit. It was horrible. A kid should not have to go through that," Furlong said. He spent two years in a homeless shelter in Louisville, Kentucky, before his family moved to Jacksonville. Furlong said his father and brother often had to rely on family for help. His mother died of leukemia when he was just 6 years old.

While studying for high school finals and AP tests, he was once again without a home. Furlong, 18, stayed with his aunt and uncle and his girlfriend's family. Despite all this, he will graduate with a 4.65 GPA on June 4 as valedictorian of his class.

"Positive mindset. 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," Furlong said.

Furlong plans to study civil engineering at Florida State, the same school from which his brother will graduate.

"I wrote him a letter of recommendation, and I said he was the hardest working, most-motivated student I have ever had," Jennifer Stover, teacher, said. "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 has received some money to help with expenses at Florida State and a housing discount. He's also hoping for scholarships.

"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," he said.