Homeless teen overcomes odds to pursue college education

MIAMI (WSVN) - A student left homeless after being kicked out of his home is college-bound after having shared his experiences in an essay that caught the attention of Miami-Dade school officials.

Following the death of his mother, Terrence was kicked out of his home in Miami by his stepfather. Though his friends gave him a place to stay, he knew it wasn’t a permanent option and prepared for the worst.

“I didn’t want to just stick to them like that, ’cause it’s another mouth to feed, and they probably didn’t have the money for it, so I didn’t want to do that,” he said, “but if I had to be removed from the house, I was prepared to live behind a Winn-Dixie.”

Luckily, a meeting turned Terrence’s life around. He was put into contact with a homeless education program called “Project UP-START,” and the Chapman Partnership shelter, where he was given a second chance.

“When I moved into Chapman, it was really more about security and would I be able to go to school the next day,” said Terrence. “Lucky for me, Chapman had a bus ride type thing where they could take me to school and from.”

While living at the shelter, the teen entered a homeless awareness essay contest and bravely shared his experience.

His piece blew the judges away. “First of all, it was well-written,” said Ron Book, chair of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. “Second of all, it made you understand what someone like Terrence was feeling as a part of that system.”

Terrence’s essay even caught the attention of Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who traveled to the shelter to meet the teen. “He told me to find myself. You know? ‘Find who you really are,'” said Terrence. “All this time, I thought I knew who I was, but when I really sat and thought about it, I really understood who I was: I’m a loving, caring, overly positive person.”

Carvalho’s input turned out to be invaluable. “Really, just seeing someone connect to me on a level I’m really not used, instantly connecting to me,” said Terrence.

Terrence has since enrolled at Florida International University, where he plans on majoring in information technology and business.

The teen said he credits his positive attitude to helping him overcome the odds. “If you just have faith that something great is going to happen — even when the day looks so dark, there’s a little bit of light in there — something great is going to happen,” he said.

After college, Terrence said he plans to start his own business and make technology more accessible to everyone.

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