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Homeless Teen Attempting To Win $100,000 Intel Science Talent Search

Clever Girl


A 17-year-old high school senior from Brentwood, N.Y. is attempting to win the top prize at the national Intel Science Talent Search. The winner will receive a life-changing $100,000. Why would it be life-changing for this teen? She and her family are homeless. 

Samantha Garvey is number 4 in her class with a 3.9 grade point average. She plays the violin and is studying Italian. All of this she’s maintaining even though she’s living in a homeless shelter with her 13-year-old siblings and parents.

“Garvey and her family have lived in shelters and hotels since she was a little girl,” explains ABC. “Seven years ago, they were able to move into a house, but in February 2010, her parents were involved in a car accident. They were forced to leave.”

“It hurts leaving everything behind and just having to be rushed out of your home,” said Garvey.

She found out on Wednesday she’s one of 61 Long Island semifinalists in the national Intel Science Talent Search because of her work studying the effects of predators on ribbed mussels, something she’s extremely passionate about. “I get so excited to tell people about my mussels and crabs that I become a completely different person,” she said.

The Intel Science Talent Search, according to Intel’s website, is “a program of Society for Science & the Public, is America’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. Every year, roughly 1,600 U.S. high school seniors enter the Intel Science Talent Search with original science projects. Forty finalists, representing the best and brightest young scientific minds in America, go on to compete for over USD 1.25 million in awards and scholarships.”

They also mention that seven past winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize while others have been awarded the Fields Medal, the National Medal of Science, and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Last year’s top prize went to Evan O’Dorney “for a mathematics project in which he compared two ways to estimate the square root of an integer: continued fraction convergents and iterated linear fraction transformations.”

“What I’m doing is the American dream,” said Garvey. “It’s unbelievable. It might as well be the lottery.” She’ll find out in two weeks if she’s a finalist for the prize in which case she’ll be guaranteed a monetary award. She’s also get an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., an opportunity to meet with government officials, including the President or Vice President of the United States and a chance to interact with leading scientists and display science project research at the National Academy of Sciences.

“I want to do better for myself,” she said. “I want a better life.”

For other children or teens in a similar situation Garvey had this to say, “I’m right there with you. I hope things get better, because they do.”

Take a look for yourself.

(via ABC News)

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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."