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    Homeless teen is college bound!

    Date: 06.25.09 | by Judge Tom.

    When Valencia McMurray was in the 10th-grade in Minneapolis, Minnesota, her mother moved out-of-state to care for her grandmother. Her father lived in Wisconsin and she didn’t have much of a relationship with him.


    Valencia - from Facebook

    For a short time, Valencia lived with her brother and his friends. She worked part-time at Burger King and tried to stay in school. When her brother lost his job, she found herself supporting him and his friends. This became too much and she moved out, living in one friend’s home after another.

    One of Valencia’s teachers caught on to her lifestyle and noticed her missing school weeks at a time. With the help of the school social worker, they arranged for Valencia to live in an emergency shelter for teens and eventually in a transitional housing program.

    Valencia was one of over 5,000 homeless teenagers in the Minneapolis area. But she is also one of the exceptions. She knew that 2/3 of homeless kids performed below grade level but she was out to beat the odds. During her last years in high school, she was in six Advanced Placement classes. On June 6, 2009 Valencia graduated from North High School. She earned a four-year scholarship to Augsburg College in the Fall.

    Congratulations, Valencia, for your perseverance and a job well done. Enjoy college.

    Update:  In a 2009 survey of public schools in nine counties in Pennsylvania, it was discovered that the number of homeless students had increased 64% [from 1308 to 2146] in a period of one school year. The reasons given included a poor economy and loss of jobs. In the study, children were considered homeless if they lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, according to the 1987 federal McKinney-Vento Act. This law ensures that homeless children have the same rights to public education as other kids. Nationwide, the number of homeless children enrolled in school grew 17% this past year according to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Youth.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    • Sam
      Tue, 07 Jul 2009 at 11:56

      I don’t know if Valencia will ever read this, but just in case: Girl, you are AMAZING! SIX AP classes? AND you were homeless? I could barely handle two AP classes, and I never had to bear a burden like yours. You are an inspiration to us all! Have fun at college – you definitely earned it!