Homeless Student Becomes High School Valedictorian

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When Griffin Furlong, 18, was 6 years old, he lost his mother to leukemia. After her funeral, Griffin and his older brother, Sean, made a pact to stick together and help each other through any future challenges.

Less than a year later, due to mounting medical expenses and other financial struggles, Griffin, Sean and their father found themselves living in homeless shelters to survive.

“I remember the first night I stayed in the shelter. It was very cold and strange,” Griffin says. “I don’t remember sleeping at night. I didn’t know our future at all, and that’s what really scared me the most.”

Driven by the memory of his mother and Sean’s unwavering support, Griffin made it his mission to stay focused on the path to a brighter future. Despite the daily hardships he endured, Griffin never missed a day of school, and he managed to achieve remarkable academic success, all while keeping his home life a secret from the majority of his teachers and classmates. “The first time I made straight A’s, I was actually shocked,” Griffin says.

Griffin kept his motto, “never give up,” close to heart -- words inspired by his mother, which he has been writing on the bottom rim of his baseball caps since he was nine years old.

In June 2014, Griffin graduated as valedictorian of his high-school class. “When I was giving the [valedictory] speech, all I could think about was my mom. She was my crowd,” he says.

Griffin graduated with a 4.65 GPA and received a scholarship to attend Florida State University, where he plans to major in civil engineering.

To reward Griffin for his hard work and determination, The Doctors surprise him with an all-expenses-paid trip to South Africa!