A 17-year-old high school student who was formerly homeless and travels approximately 140 miles round-trip to school every day will be attending Harvard University this fall — on a full scholarship.
Jorge Campos, a senior from Palmdale, California, was just 13 years old when his father lost his job as an auto technician, according to KTLA, leaving the family of six to live in a van, out of hotels and at times with relatives.
Yet no matter what he went through, nothing stopped him from pursuing his education.
“Sometimes I’m getting home at 11 or midnight, just to wake up the next morning at 5 or 4:30 in the morning,” Campos, who plans to study economics and get his master’s degree in public policy, told KTLA.
When he looks back at his journey, he says that “instead of breaking down and crying like I should, because they were quite traumatic experiences, I just look at it … and look forward.”
Being homeless inspired Campos —a University of California’s TRIO Upward Bound Scholar — to enroll in college level courses at Los Angeles Community College, according to the news outlet. After three more classes he’ll earn his associate’s degree in Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
On Tuesday, Campos was one of 106 scholars honored at USC in math and science, ABC reports. He received a full scholarship to Harvard, which he will attend in the fall. For the past 40 years, the program has made it possible for low-income students to go to college.
His past experiences also motivated him to learn about his finances, which taught him how his family could transition from a “high loan risk” to homeowners. This newfound knowledge helped them purchase their home two years ago.
“I took over my parents’ finances, under budgeting, and now two years later, we purchased our home,” Jorge told KTLA.
He added: “Always keep in mind where you’re going, right? Because it’s not where you are that matters, but where you want to be.”