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Homeless Teen Who Didn’t Think He’d Finish High School Graduates As Valedictorian

A valedictorian in graduation robes giving a speech.

Despite all the obstacles in his path, one homeless New Orleans teen has not only graduated from Walter L. Cohen High School, but has earned the title of valedictorian! 19-year-old Elijah Hogan kept up his 3.89 GPA while living at a homeless shelter for part of his educational career. Although there was a time when he wondered whether or not he would make it through high school, he ended up succeeding beyond his wildest dreams. His incredible story has become an inspiration to many!

As Elijah informed People, his grandmother was a huge help to him when he found himself with nowhere to go. As a former social worker, she steered the teenager in the direction of Covenant House.

“Her lease form for the house that we all used to live in started to expire, and we only had 30 days until we had to move out,” the valedictorian recalled. “So I took it upon myself to live independently. She gave me some info about Covenant House and told me to continue on with my education.”

A pensive young man holds his hand up to his chin.
Screengrab from YouTube

Within this temporary housing arrangement, the homeless teen was able to find enough stability to finish his studies and graduate high school as a top student. He credits them with “giving me a place to stay, a place to eat, a place to sleep.”

“Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to finish my high school years,” he said.

Elijah’s case worker was cheering him on during graduation.

This homeless teen also received some much-needed support from his case manager, Jarkayla Cobb, who was absolutely thrilled to watch him graduate.

“I was front row and center,” she said. “He was the first person to walk out and I was the first person to yell his name before every other parent started yelling their kids’ names. To see him and be here to experience him experiencing joy — I couldn’t ask for anything more, to be honest with you.”

A valedictorian in graduation robes giving a speech.
Screengrab from YouTube

Having his case manager to root for him during the ceremony must have been truly special for Elijah, especially since his own mom couldn’t be there. According to 11Alive, she passed away when her son was only eight.

After delivering his valedictorian speech at Walter L. Cohen High School, Elijah Hogan still has more to say to his fellow young people.

“This is going out to all African-American children, teens included,” he said. “Despite where you are, or the area you’re in, even though it may look bad and down, there are moments where there will be people that will give you a guiding hand to help get you through. So, take that opportunity.”

Wise words!

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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