Even dreams we don’t dare to dream can come true as teenage science prodigy, Samantha Garvey discovered. She and her family moved into a Long Island homeless shelter this past New Year’s Day after being evicted from their Brentwood, N. Y. home.
Before the month ended, Garvey stood in one of the most renowned houses in the world – The House of Representatives. She joined numerous political dignitaries Tuesday night, all gathered to listen to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
What brought this about? Long Island congressman Steve Israel learned of the 18 year-old’s story when she reached the semifinals in the Intel Science Talent Search, a prestigious event which garnered national headlines. Israel invited the girl to both honor her achievements in the face of adversity and to bring attention to the plight of many Americans like the Garveys, a family who could raise a prodigy and yet end up homeless.
Garvey’s father lost his job. Then the family dealt with a car accident which left Garvey’s mother unable to work for 9 months and an emergency trip to El Salvador because of the death of Garvey’s maternal grandmother left the family struggling and behind on their mortgage. They were evicted New Year’s Eve.
Shortly after moving into the shelter, Garvey received word that her 2 ½ year study on mollusks and the ecosystem had been selected for the semifinals. She competed with 1839 entries from 497 high schools spread across 44 states. Though she recently learned she did not make it to the finals, the 4-foot-11 teen believes science is her ticket out. With a 3.9 GPA, Garvey is applying to Brown and Yale, relying on a $50,000 check she received from AT&T when she appeared on “The Ellen Degeneres Show.”
As for her family, Garvey’s father has returned to work as a cab driver and the Suffolk County Social Services has offered the family a three-bedroom home through a special housing program. Things are looking up.
Of her visit to Washington D.C., Garvey says, “Just being there, it was the craziest feeling,’’ in an interview with TODAY’s Ann Curry. “Being behind the scenes, you get this perspective that you never dream of having. This is completely once in a lifetime.’’