Life
Homeless Teen Defies Odds And Becomes Valedictorian Of His High School
Martin faced many obstacles in his life, but still, he managed to graduate at the top of his class.
Jenny Brown
09.17.21

It would be a huge accomplishment for any high schooler to be named the valedictorian. After all, it’s typically given to the student with the highest academic rankings in their class. For someone to receive this honor, they must carry a GPA of 3.9 to 4.0 throughout their high school years (which would not be easy).

Sometimes, more than one individual is named valedictorian. But regardless of the number, these people take their schoolwork seriously. Sure, some students have natural intellect but even with that, to receive this particular honor, they must have a stable and quiet place to study.

Unsplash - J. Kelly Brito
Source:
Unsplash - J. Kelly Brito

Not long ago, people around the world learned about one specific high school valedictorian. But his story is special.

Martin Folsom

After reading this, that’s a name you won’t soon forget. You see, for years, Martin and his mother have been homeless. While they had a roof over their head occasionally, they spent most of their time being homeless.

Pixabay - José Manuel de Laá
Source:
Pixabay - José Manuel de Laá

Poor study environment

Even when staying in a shelter, it was usually crowded and noisy. For someone in high school who needs to study, that’s not a perfect environment. As a matter of fact, a lot of kids in shelters don’t even attend school.

Pixabay - elizabethaferry
Source:
Pixabay - elizabethaferry

Defying the odds

Despite being in and out of homelessness throughout high school, Martin was determined to graduate. But this Florida teen did much more than that. He remained focus on his studies even when it was challenging.

Pixabay - StockSnap
Source:
Pixabay - StockSnap

An awesome outcome

By staying dedicated, Martin graduated with his class at Philip Randolph Career Academy. But he was also named the valedictorian for his class. Especially given his situation, that’s quite an accomplishment.

YouTube Screenshot/ABC13 Houston
Source:
YouTube Screenshot/ABC13 Houston

A little insight

When asked how he felt, Martin had this to say.

“It kind of gave me a jolt in my chest a little bit, so it was a good feeling. It means a lot and it gives me a sense of all I’ve done and all I have accomplished was worth it.”

YouTube Screenshot/ABC13 Houston
Source:
YouTube Screenshot/ABC13 Houston

A little bit of history

Come to find out, Melva, Martin’s mother, was in a horrible marriage. For her and her son’s safety, she had to flee and that’s just what she did. Her ex-husband ultimately landed in prison for 40 years. His crime? Murder.

Unsplash/Bill Oxford
Source:
Unsplash/Bill Oxford

Working to support her son

Melva did her best to provide what Martin needed. But often, it wasn’t enough. Within two years of fleeing, they were living in several different shelters across five states. Eventually, they landed in Jacksonville at which time Martin enrolled in high school.

Unsplash/Obed Esquivel
Source:
Unsplash/Obed Esquivel

Facing more problems

Unfortunately, Melva and Martin ended up homeless two more times while he was in high school. All she wanted was to have a home for her and her son. But that was easier said than done. At one point, the two of them sat inside a McDonald’s without anywhere to go. It was that bad.

Unsplash/Thabang Mokoena
Source:
Unsplash/Thabang Mokoena

Reaching out for help

Melva desperately searched for a place. She made multiple phone calls to various organizations. As she puts it,

“I was on the phone calling people, calling organizations, and by the grace of God, we got into a shelter that day.”

Unsplash/Luis Galvez
Source:
Unsplash/Luis Galvez

Never drifting

At any time, Martin could’ve given up on school. He could’ve ended up on the streets like so many other kids his age. But this young man had a dream of going in a different direction. So, he never wavered in putting his schoolwork first.

Pixabay - Free-Photos
Source:
Pixabay - Free-Photos

A natural-born leader

From his freshman to senior year, Martin served as class president. He was wise enough to realize something important.

“At my school, there are a lot of other smart people there too. And if I let myself slip, they would take it from me in a second.”

YouTube Screenshot/ABC13 Houston
Source:
YouTube Screenshot/ABC13 Houston

What an inspiration

For all kids who think they can’t beat the odds, they should pay attention to Martin Folsom’s story. He had nothing but that didn’t sway him from doing what he needed to do. He’s a true inspiration. As for his mother, she’s beyond proud.

YouTube Screenshot/ABC13 Houston
Source:
YouTube Screenshot/ABC13 Houston

Martin deserves to be praised for his amazing accomplishment – and there’s no doubt he will continue to make great achievements in his life.

Watch the video below to see an interview with this very inspiring young man!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

Source: People, YouTube

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By Jenny Brown
hi@sbly.com
Jenny Brown is a senior writer at Shareably. She is based in San Francisco and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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