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Young man at his graduation.

Homeless Student Defies Odds and Graduates Top of His Class

Collegiate Academies
Uplifting News

Landlord Leaves Student Homeless - Now, He Graduated at the Top of His Class

Elijah Hogan is inspiring everyone with his grit, determination, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

No one could say it's been easy for 19-year-old Elijah Hogan.

Struggling with homelessness, he didn't even think he'd make it through high school. And yet, despite his dire circumstances, he's accomplished what most of us wouldn't, even in ideal conditions: Elijah didn't just manage to graduate, he graduated top of his class.

From Homeless to Class Valedictorian

Two people holding framed certificates and a bouquet of flowers.

Elijah Hogan graduated top of his class at Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans


Elijah was only 8 years old when his mother died.

Up until a year and a half ago, he'd been living with his grandmother. However, that ended when her landlord decided to sell the property. She went to live in a senior's care home and Elijah was left without permanent housing as per CNN.

With nowhere else to go, Elijah turned to Covenant House, a homeless shelter in New Orleans for youth ages 16 - 22. While it meant he was off the streets, life in the shelter still wasn't easy.

"Being in a homeless shelter is traumatic. Whatever you went through to get you here is traumatic."

Jarkayla Cobb, Case Manager at Covenant House

"He was very shy," Jarkayla told Good Morning America. Elijah struggled to fit in, both at the shelter and at school. He had a hard time trusting people and would mostly keep to himself. Eventually though, he started to open up.

"He had very little words at first, so it's just awesome to see how much he's developed and become so well-spoken over the last seven or eight months that I've been a part of his life and just been able to push and encourage him to go after everything that the world has to offer."

Including encouraging him all the way to the podium at his high school graduation.

In an inspiring valedictory speech, Elijah talked about overcoming hardships and reaching for your goals.

“Above all the trials, tests, and hardships, what led us here is that we all set a goal to reach,” he told his classmates. “Each individual on this stage has proven themselves to be able to move into the next stage of evolution. Take pride in how far you have come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy your journey.”

He also called the speech a “thank-you note” to the strong community at Walter L. Cohen High School and at Covenant House, which he credits for helping him succeed.

Elijah graduated with a 3.93 grade point average.

Elijah's Message to Young People

Teen holding an award at graduation.

Elijah Hogan receives Excellence in Art Award


So what's Elijah's next move? He's going to Xavier University of Louisiana in the fall to major in graphic design. The self-professed fan of Marvel and Stan Lee dreams of creating his own comics and "seeing the joy in people's faces.”

The university has granted Elijah a full-ride scholarship to cover tuition. He's also launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him with his living expenses and meal plans. More than 700 people have donated so far, raising an impressive $34,650 — more than enough to secure housing for a long time to come.

As for words of advice for other young people facing obstacles? Elijah offered this wisdom (and honestly, it applies to all of us).

“You are the bulldozer that could break your limitations. That's my advice. Just don't let it hold you back or put you down. Keep pushing forward without any doubts in mind."

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