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Ellen Gives Homeless Science Whiz $50K Scholarship


Intel Semifinalist Samantha Garvey, 18, right, gets a hug from her science research teacher, Rebecca Grella, left, after an announcement by Suffolk County officials, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, at Brentwood High School in Brentwood, NY. ( AP Photo/John Dunn)

Samantha Garvey’s inspirational story took her to the “Ellen Degeneres Show,” where the homeless Brentwood High School senior and Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist was once again showered with gifts, including a $50,000 scholarship, in front of national television audience.


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The 18-year-old who lives in a Bay Shore shelter with her family until they can move into their new rent-subsidized house recently offered by Suffolk County, told the NBC-TV show host Thursday that school helped her “focus on something else” while her family struggled with problems at home.

“Being homeless was really scary because you didn’t know,” Garvey told Degeneres. “I’m not worrying about normal teenage things, it was just the worst feeling in the world. Feeling like your family is being torn apart and you’re being tossed out on the street and no one cares…it’s the holidays, but they don’t care they just want you out of the house.”

Garvey was thrust into the national spotlight after she became one of 300 teenagers nationwide named as semifinalist in the Intel science competition. During the broadcast, Degeneres called Garvey an “inspiration” before presenting the science star with a $1,000 gift card to Whole Foods and a $5,000 certificate to J.C. Penny. AT&T also contributed to the cause with a $50,000 scholarship the college of her choice.

“You don’t have to go to a thrift store anymore,” the talk show host said.

Garvey has gone from living in a homeless shelter to being a media darling, whose story has turned her family’s fortune around in a matter of days.

Her family was kicked out of their house on New Year’s Eve. Samantha learned of the nomination while living in the shelter. The county stepped in last week and found the family a rent-subsidized house where she can now study without worrying about where her family will end up next. Other’s inspired by her story also contributed by donating to the family.

The aspiring marine biologist, who has applied to Yale and Brown universities, was also invited to the Jan. 25 State of the Union as guest of Rep. Steve Isreal (D-Dix Hills).

“I am only 18, I know, but I’ve gone through a lot,” she said. “I can say that; if you keep your head up and you keep on moving forward things will get better.”

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