How One Teen Went from Homeless to Harvard

Poverty is a crippling reality for many in the US. Since 2009, over 7 million Americans have lose their homes. Jorge Campos and his family know this fact all too well. In 2013, the Campos family faced financial ruin when Jorge’s father lost his job. They lost their home in south Los Angeles, and the family of six was homeless for three months. It was while the family was constantly moving from place to place just to find shelter that Jorge decided to enroll in some courses at Los Angeles Community College.

Some of the courses that Jorge was taking dealt with economics, finances, and budgeting. Jorge learned so much that he eventually took over his parents’ finances. After two years of budgeting, Jorge’s family was able to purchase another home in Palmdale. Jorge continued to attend classes at Manual Arts High School, even though the commute from his new home was 70 miles one way. Through all of this, Jorge maintained an incredible GPA with near perfect test scores. Because of his hard work and dedication, Jorge has been accepted to Harvard University.

The Ivy League university provides an incredible education, but at a price. That’s why Jorge has been applying for scholarships, raising money, and preparing budgets for his future expenses while living in Boston. Jorge was chosen from among 86,000 applicants in the Coke Scholar program, which earned him $20,000 towards his tuition. He was also one of 106 students honored by the University of Southern California (USC) with scholarships from the Trio Program. Federally-funded program, which was existed for the last 40 years, is dedicated to making college accessible for those students from low-income brackets who will be the first in their families to attend college. Theda Douglas, the Associate Vice President of USC University Relations is excited to see where Jorge will end up. “I think he’s going to be able to give back to our world,” she said, “and inspire other young people and kids of color who didn’t think that they could actually do it.”

Jorge knows firsthand the financial struggles facing so many in his community. And because of this, he is all the more determined to use his life experiences and formal education to make a difference in the world. He will pursue economics for his undergraduate studies and then move on to a Master’s Degree in Public Policy. Jorge wants to work in local government to help address fiscal policies and make changes that will help others escape the pitfalls of poverty. One day, he hopes to work at the Federal Reserve. He will begin classes in the Fall Semester of 2017.

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