From the streets to the ivory tower: Former homeless teen earns full-ride scholarship to Harvard

Richard Jenkins, a formerly homeless high school senior, was granted a full-ride scholarship to attend Harvard earlier this month. The 18-year-old is pictured above outside his boarding school earlier this month 

By Associated Press and Ashley Collman For

Philadelphia teen Richard Jenkins used to sleep in a homeless shelter and was nicknamed ‘Harvard’ by bullies for being a bookworm. Now, he is going to the same Ivy League school on a full scholarship.

Jenkins attends Girard College, a boarding school in north Philadelphia, and is this year’s valedictorian.

The 18-year-old found out the good news while in Paris earlier this month on a school trip. He said Wednesday that he was so excited he threw his cellphone in the middle of a call.

Jenkins said he decided to dedicate himself to his studies in the sixth grade, after feeling ashamed for lying to a friend about where he was living  

‘I set the tabs on my computer for all the Ivy League schools I had applied to. I checked Penn; I got wait-listed. I checked Yale and I got denied.

‘In the back of my head I’m already thinking, “Okay, Harvard’s going to deny me too.” And then I open up the Harvard tab and there’s a link to a video saying, “Welcome to the class of 2022.” I was talking to my girlfriend; I threw my phone!’ he recalled to WHYY.

Jenkins said he decided to focus on academics after lying to a friend about sleeping in a homeless shelter in the sixth grade.

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