It was no ordinary screening of President Obama's State of the Union address at Brentwood High School on Long Island Tuesday night: students, faculty and community members were gathered there to support Samantha Garvey.
The hometown teen made headlines this month for winning selection into the Intel Science Talent Search. Her inspiring story took her all the way to Washington, D.C. to watch the president's address.
"I never thought anyone from here could get so far," said fellow Brentwood student Kristen Rondon Tuesday. "I think she's really going to amount to something."
Just weeks ago, Garvey was living in a homeless shelter after her parents fell behind on rent. Still, she managed to become a semi-finalist in the prestigious Intel Science Talent search.
"I just want to inspire people, to teach people that if you just do well in school and you pursue what you love -- you know, you just get out there and you do something good for yourself -- good will come out of it," Garvey said in a Today Show interview set to air Wednesday morning.
Long Island Rep. Steve Israel invited Garvey to be his guest at the State of the Union and brought her story to the attention of the president. While the president didn't mention Garvey in his speech, over at Brentwood High School, spectators at a watch party were impressed.
"It's pretty great to see Samantha all the way in Washington with the president of the United States," said student Melissa Cintellus. "No matter where you live or where you come from, if you work hard, you can achieve something really great."
Principal Rich Loeschner credited Garvey's parents as "tremendously supportive people."
"They fell on hard times but never lost their sense of humor," said Loeschner. "If you keep that family unit together, good things happen to you."
Garvey will find out Wednesday if she made the top 40 science students in the country. Her principal says given what she's already overcome, the chances are good.