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The COVID-19 pandemic may have shifted graduation season, but it hasn’t stopped young scholars from shining. According to People, Florida teen Martin Folsom overcame homelessness and was named valedictorian of his high school’s 2020 graduating class.

Folsom—a graduate of the Jacksonville-based Philip Randolph Career Academy—has been on a journey that illustrates the power of perseverance. He and his mother Melva battled with homelessness since he was a child after she courageously fled from her ex-husband who is facing a 40 year prison sentence. Over a two-year span, Folsom and his mother lived in different shelters throughout five states.

Determined to be successful, he did not let his circumstances hold him back from excelling academically. “I never thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ or ‘I’m done with this,'” he said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “It’s always been, ‘Well, it happened again and I’ve gotta keep myself up and keep moving forward.'” He also added his accomplishment made all the hard work worth it. Folsom will attend Valdosta State University in the fall and aspires to work for the FBI.

#BlackExcellence is being displayed in academia at all levels. 14-year-old Chicago teen Dorothy Jean Tillman recently earned a master’s degree in environmental science and sustainable engineering from Unity College. Danielle Geathers—a rising junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—became the school’s first Black woman student body president. Nicholas Johnson became the first Black person in Princeton University’s 274-year history to be named valedictorian and Massachusetts teen Roberta Hannah was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools.


#BlackExcellence: 14-Year-Old Chicago Teen Dorothy Jean Tillman Earns Master’s Degree

Danielle Geathers Becomes MIT’s First Black Woman Student Body President

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