Richard Jenkins is a Philadelphia teen who used to sleep in a homeless shelter. He was nicknamed “Harvard” by bullies because he was such a bookworm. Now the young man is planning to attend that Ivy League school with a full scholarship.
Jenkins attends Girard College, a boarding school in north Philadelphia, and is this year’s valedictorian. The 18-year-old scholar found out about Harvard while in Paris on a school trip. He said that he was so excited he threw his cellphone in the middle of a call.
A Commitment Made in the Sixth Grade
Jenkins remembers that he made a commitment to focus on academics after he lied to a friend about sleeping in a homeless shelter. He was just in the sixth grade.
“I was so embarrassed to say I lived in a shelter,” he said. “But that’s when I realized I’ve got to buckle in because I can’t have my potential kids going through what I’m going through now.”
The young man applied to Harvard after receiving a promotional email in his junior year. Jenkins wanted to go to the prestigious school and saw that they had a program for students from households that earn less than $65,000 a year.
Mom Not Surprised
While Jenkins was not convinced he could make it, he said his mom always knew he was going to get into Harvard. She told the Philadelphia Inquirer “I was not surprised.”
Jenkins plans to study computer science in order to create a more intuitive virtual assistant.