A dedicated teenager has graduated top of his high school class despite growing up in a succession of homeless shelters. Martin Folsom, 18, from Jacksonville in Florida has now secured a place in college after being given the accolade of his old school’s hardest-working student.

Martin secured the title of class valedictorian – meaning he has the highest grades in his graduating class – despite having bouts of homelessness throughout his academic years. Martin, who aspires to work for the FBI, is the first person in his family to attend college after defying the odds and overcome adversity to excel in school.

In a video posted online thanking those who have supported him, A. Philip Randolph Career Academies student, Martin, said: ‘It’s been a rocky road, a lot of hardships.

‘But seeing myself now about to graduate, about to go to college, it feels good knowing all the stuff I’ve done was worth it.



‘The first day me and my mom were in a shelter, back in 2012, so many people reached out to help us. People have sacrificed their time, their effort and their money, which are very valuable things, and have done a lot to help me and my mom and to help me get further.

‘All the stuff they have done for me was worth the effort.’

In the video message, posted to the Duval County Public Schools website, Martin said he also served as class president right from his freshman through senior year. In the role he was looked at by his peers as a resource for help and advice.

As his class’ valedictorian, Martin should have stood on stage at a high school graduation ceremony to deliver a speech, but the ceremony has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Martin added: ‘I’m most proud for being the class president for my grade four years straight.

‘The main advice I would give to other people like me is to take advantage of any opportunity you can because you never know where it will lead you to or what you will get out of it.’

After the summer break Martin will go on to study accounting and finance at Valdosta State University, and hopes to put his achievements to use at the United States’ top law enforcement agency.



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