Homeless high school student named valedictorian of school after years of hard work


Graduating from high school is undoubtedly a wonderful accomplishment. Though we all face challenges throughout our journey, some student’s challenges happen to be a bit more difficult to overcome than others.

unsplash/Vasily Koloda Source: unsplash/Vasily Koloda

For someone to face these obstacles and still be able to become valedictorian of their high school is a pretty big deal. Take, for example, Martin Folsom.

YouTube Source: YouTube

Folsom is a young man living in Jacksonville, Florida who spent many years living in shelters with his mother, Melva. In fact, for two years, the family lived in various shelters across five states.

Life was far from easy for either of them.

flickr/Katheirne Hitt Source: flickr/Katheirne Hitt

But somehow, Martin overcome these adversities and was named the valedictorian at his high school, Philip Randolph Career Academy. But he didn’t stop there, he was also the president of his class from his freshman to senior year.

Now, that’s impressive.

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Traditionally, valedictorians are students with the highest grade point average in the school. However, other factors, such as credits, may be considered at certain schools. Whichever method is chosen, it’s the highest academic achievement that one can receive in high school.

Martin achieved this while not having a steady roof over his head.

This is surely an accomplishment that he doesn’t take lightly. In an interview with ABC13 Houston, he states, “It means a lot and it gives me a sense of all I’ve done and all I have accomplished was worth it.”

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Though Martin had become homeless twice in high school, in 9th and 11th grade, he and his mother spent many years on the move. And for good reason.

Melva was fleeing a dangerous environment from her ex-husband who is now in prison. He’s currently serving time for murder.

Needless to say, Melva did an amazing job raising her son, despite the obstacles she faced.

“I just constantly kept pushing him to be better, and not necessarily to be No. 1, but to be better,” she explains to WJXT.

At one point, things became so bad that they found themselves stranded at a McDonald’s downtown, unsure of where to go. Things were looking very gloom. But Melva never gave up in trying to find a place for her and her son.

flickr/David Schott Source: flickr/David Schott

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

Perhaps Martin’s perseverance and unwillingness to give up stemmed from seeing his mother’s struggle and her unwavering drive and dedication.

Apples don’t fall from the tree, they say. Maybe they’re right.

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“I never thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ or ‘I’m done with this,” Martin confesses.

It is that sort of thinking that brought him and his mother to where they are now and will likely get him to where he’s striving to be.

In the fall, Martin will be attending Valdosta State University in Georgia. After, he hopes to work for the FBI.

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Not only are his grades impressive, but his dreams are as well. You’re well on your way, Martin!

To see Martin in his cap and gown and to hear more about his journey, watch the video below!

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Sources: People, Spotlight