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Homeless Student Becomes $100K Intel Science Talent Search Semi-Finalist

Samantha Garvey with Nancy Pelosi during her Washington DC visit for the State of the Union. Photo: Eric Connolly of the CAO Office of Photography, Courtesy of Rep. Steve Israel's Office.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

January 27, 2012

Homeless Student Becomes $100K Intel Science Talent Search Semi-Finalist
On New Year’s Day, Samantha Garvey’s life changed for the worse. She and her family moved from their home into a homeless shelter just a few months after her parents had been injured in a car accident and forced out of their jobs, leading them to fall behind on rent payments, according to the New York Daily News. But just a few days after moving into a homeless shelter, things started looking up for Garvey. The New York Daily News reports that Garvey found out she had been named a semi-finalist for the Intel Science Talent Search for her research on mussels and crabs, which awards over $630,000 in scholarship monies including the top prize of a $100,000 scholarship. It wasn’t long after that everyone was telling her story, and eventually, several important people sought to help Samantha and her family.

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On Thursday, January 19, Garvey was invited to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she was surprised by Ellen with a $50,000 scholarship for college from AT&T. During her appearance on the Ellen Show, she made it very apparent that her love for learning, especially for science, was what helped her stay positive during her family’s tough times. Garvey also stated that she plans to keep pushing herself to a better life. In her interview with the Ellen DeGeneres Show, she stated, “My science has always been really big for me and it’s always helped me, you know. Being able to focus on something else, which is my way out…I decided that if I keep doing what I love, I’m able to make a better life for myself. I’ll be able to have a great occupation because of it, and I’ll be able to make money and I’ll be able to have a house. I’ll be able to buy my parents a house.”

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But Samantha’s story doesn’t stop there. On Tuesday evening, she was a guest of House Representative, Steve Israel, at the State of the Union address. When Israel was interviewed by the New York Daily News, he said his reasons for inviting Garvey were two-fold. “First, I want her to be an example of perseverance in the face of adversity,” he stated. “But second, I think she will force everyone from the President to my colleagues to ask how it is that a middle-class family with a child who is a genius can fall into homelessness?” The day after the State of the Union, Samantha made an appearance on the TODAY show, where she showed off her copy of the State of the Union address, signed by President Obama. And though everything is beginning to turn around for Garvey and her family, she revealed on the TODAY show that her family’s struggles are still fresh in her mind.

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She told NBC News, “On the holidays, you’re not celebrating the holidays. You’re putting your stuff in storage and looking for a place to live. It’s not really festive. It’s bad.” Since making headlines across the nation, Samantha and her family have been assisted by the Suffolk County Social Services department in finding a low-cost home, which the family will move into next week, according to the Huffington Post. While Garvey also learned this week that she was not named one of the 40 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, according to MSNBC; her hopes no longer depend on winning the award. She is well on her way to not only succeeding in her educational pursuits, thanks to some help along the way, but also in helping to change her family’s circumstances for the better.

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