Samantha Garvey: Turning Her Losses Into Big Wins

When the Long Island, N.Y., paper Newsday profiled Samantha Garvey’s inspiring story last January, the homeless 17-year-old instantly shot to fame. Amid family turmoil -- a car crash, her parents’ consequent joblessness, the death of a grandparent and eviction from her longtime Long Island home -- Garvey maintained an impressive 3.9 GPA at Brentwood High School and became a semifinalist in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search contest.

Her story captured the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere: President Obama invited her to his State of the Union address, and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” granted her a $50,000 college scholarship. Most notably, she and her family left the shelter for a permanent residence: a three-bedroom county-owned home in Bay Shore. Here’s how Garvey taught a nation to endure in the face of adversity:

Pursue your passion: “I decided that if I keep doing what I love (studying science), I’m able to make a better life for myself. I’ll be able to have a great occupation ... and buy my parents a house,” she once said.

Leave the pity party: “My parents always said, ‘Keep your head up.’ If you look down and just mope, nothing’s going to come out of it. And I always took that to heart.”

Keep hope alive: “If you keep the mentality that it’s not that bad, if you look at it in a different light, then things can get better. I’m only a teen, but I’ve gone through a lot. And if you keep your head up and keep on moving forward, things will get better.”

Photo: Getty Images

by Stephanie Eunice