Homeless Teen, Top Science Student, to Get House

She and her family have been living in a shelter.

By Greg Cergol
|  Friday, Jan 13, 2012  |  Updated 7:07 PM EDT
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The family of a Long Island homeless teen recently named one of the top science students in the nation will how have a home to call their own.

The family of a Long Island homeless teen recently named one of the top science students in the nation will how have a home to call their own.

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Intel Honor for Homeless L.I. Student

She refuses to let her family's financial situation shape her life: Meet Samantha Garvey the amazing Long Island girl who has been named a semi-finalist in the national Intel science competition.
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The family of a Long Island homeless teen recently named one of the top science students in the nation will how have a home to call their own.

Samantha Garvey, 17, is among 61 Long Island teens, and 300 nationwide, designated as semi-finalists in the National Intel Science Search.

Garvey and her family were offered a rent subsidized three-bedroom home by Suffolk County officials Friday morning. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says the Garvey family can move in about 10 days.

"This is just the most amazing thing you could ask for," the diminutive Garvey said at a news conference Friday, surrounded by her parents, brother, sister and a cadre of politicians and school officials.

"We're all in tears here," she said. "This is what we've always wanted."

The Garvey family was evicted from their home in December after the teen's parents were injured in a car crash.  Samantha, along with her mom, dad and two siblings, moved into a homeless shelter in Bay Shore two weeks ago.

"My dad has always said, 'Pick your head up and keep on going,'" the Brentwood High School teen told NBC New York earlier in the week. "That's the mentality."

Garvey said it was the family's second time in a shelter.

Being homeless "has always been a motivator for me," she said.

That motivation has driven Garvey to become an honors student applying for admission to Brown University, among others, even as she struggled to find the cash to pay for her application. 

"You can sit around and mope, but what's that going to get you?" Garvey said.

The teen found relief in the two-and-a-half year scientific study that culminated in her Intel entry.

The study focused on the effects of predators on mussels, and the work took her to a Long Island salt marsh and a research lab at Stony Brook University -- all as she faced obstacles at home.

"Sam has the ability to focus amidst all of her troubles," said teacher Rebecca Grella.  "Even in the darkness, she sees the light."

"I tell all my customers about her," said dad Leo Garvey, now working as a cab driver.

"We are so proud of her," said mom Olga Garvey, now working at a local hospital. 

Samantha Garvey aspires to be a marine biologist.  She hopes for more good news later this month, when Intel names its finalists for the competition's top prize of $100,000.

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