In a time where Black people have so many threatening factors working against us, young people are still shining stars in academic excellence.
According to ESSENCE, Jacksonville teen, Martin Folsom — a graduating senior from A. Philip Randolph Career Academies — successfully secured the title of class valedictorian despite battling homelessness through his school years.
Graduating at the top of his class was no easy task, but Folsom saw it through proving there’s nothing that can stop determination.
“It means a lot and it gives me a sense of all I’ve done and all I have accomplished was worth it,” Folsom said in a video addressing Duval County Public Schools’ class of 2020. “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.”
Folsom grew up living in shelters, but above it all, he was able to serve as class president from his freshman to senior year and his peers looked to him as a resource and role model, ESSENCE reports.
Folsom credits his mother and others around him that sacrificed time and money to help him graduate at the top of his class.
If schools were not shut down, Folsom would’ve been able to proudly walk across the stage and be able to deliver his valedictorian speech in person. Though he won’t have that opportunity, Folsom still dressed in his full cap and gown attire for Action News Jax cameras to address his peers.
“Take advantage of any opportunity you can because you never know where it’s going to take you,” Folsom said in a parting message for his class.
Folsom has plans to study accounting and finance at Valdosta State University, and hopes of working for the FBI in the future, FOX6 reports.