Two Homeless Teens Named Valedictorians

Griffin Furlong and Rashema Melson overcame their lifelong struggles to graduate at the top of their classes.
4:00 | 06/13/14

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Transcript for Two Homeless Teens Named Valedictorians
Test Text1 plain We are on top of the world. It's Friday. And we're feeling good. Especially with this story. It's graduation season. And a lot of moving speeches from valedictorians all across the country, finishing at the top of your class is tough enough. But imagine doing that while being homeless. Rashima Nelson. Reporter: It is something few achieve. I'm a pretty big deal right now. Reporter: Graduating valedictorian. But for two incredible students, the road to excellence was an uncertain one. I didn't have anything to eat. And I had school. And I knew there was something I could do about it. Reporter: 18-year-old griffin furlong has been homeless for much of his life. But now, his struggle, becoming a guiding light for others. I never gave up, no matter how badly I wanted to. Reporter: It's a sentiment shared by rashima Nelson. She lives with her family at this Washington, D.C. Homeless shelter. God was telling me to show others how to be resilient. Reporter: Both acing the test of life. It shows what you can do with life, when you have mode vags, ambition and a purpose. We are so happy to have with us class of 2014 valedictorian, rashema Nelson and griffin furlong. How are you? Come on. Have a seat over here. Oh. This was the pomp and circumstance. Still. I don't care how old you are, or how young you are, it feels good. I have been wanting to meet you. We have been wanting to meet you both. Congratulations. Finishing at the top of your class. It was on Wednesday that you graduated, rashema. And you talked about going for your dreams. How did you keep going? My family inspired me to do better. When you're in a situation, the best way to get out of it is to go through it. I couldn't avoid it. I couldn't act like it wasn't there. I just pushed and pushed. You sure did. You really inspired a lot of people. You did, too, griffin. In your speech, you talked about purpose. What's your purpose now? I want to live a happy life. I face many obstacles. And now, I just want to focus everything on the future and just, you know, have a positive look after this. The future is very bright. And I love how we're continuing to play the music like that. You all did not ask for this. We sought you out. A lot of people in your school had no idea. Had no idea of your circumstances, rashema? Not that I know of. I told a couple of my friends, a couple coaches. And my principal knew. And I got a phone call, you want to go on this interview? Sure, I guess. Same with me. Only a few select friends knew about it. But it's good reaching out, you know? And letting everyone know because they understand now. And we understand that you all are going on to college. Georgetown. What are you going to study? Biology. And you're going to Florida state. Engineering. Okay. And you have a full scholarship. You're still working out the financial package you will receive. We know you can use a little help. Our sponsors are Kohl's. And they have given you each a $500 gift certificate to kind of help you. I know you said you wanted to get your -- Yes. Maybe Kohl's has that for you. Just wanted to say, congratulations. And thank you for just being you. And showing us the way. Thank you for having me. Yeah, thank you. I hope you'll keep in touch with us. Definitely. The future is bright with these two.

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