A valedictorian’s speech started with a couple of self-deprecating jokes, accomplishments of his graduating class, and a vow to make his speech a non-boring one.
It was a promise he kept as he revealed to everyone that behind his incredible achievement, he had been struggling for more than ten years with homelessness.
“Giving up is never an option…Everyone thinks I try to make good grades because I’m smart. Not true,” Griffin Furlong said.
“I perform the way I do in the classroom because I have everything to lose.”
All people were shocked as he made his speech. As they started to realize what he meant, everyone completely went silent.
His mother passed away when he was only six, leaving him with his father and older brother. A series of hardships started and they were moving from motels to shelters and go wherever they could sleep.
Furlong told Daily Mail about his feelings of isolation throughout his time in school. He remembered nights spent enduring hanger pangs and wishing he would not have to wake up for another painful day.
His classmates and teachers were shocked at his revelation. Teacher Natalie Donald said: “I actually cried when I saw it on the news. He’s made straight As across the board in my class, and he never once used his circumstances as a crutch to justify not being able to do anything.”
Furlong wants to go to Florida State University but the $20,000 tuition fee per year and accommodation hamper his future goals. After applying for scholarships and securing a couple of grants, he still came up short.
His friends then set up a GoFundMe page and it managed to raise $90,000 within two weeks.
As the valedictorian ended his speech, he gave one last piece of advice to his peers. “Do not live a life without purpose…It’s amazing what you can do with your life when you have motivation, ambition, and, most importantly, a purpose.”
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