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Homeless high schooler becomes class valedictorian

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Griffin Furlong lost his mother and endured several bouts of homelessness, but that didn't stop him from staying at the top of his class.

Furlong, 18, is the valedictorian of his high school class at First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida, and he will deliver a speech at his commencement ceremony on June 4. Furlong has experienced homelessness in various forms since he was seven years old, and has spent time living in homeless shelters, with his girlfriend's family, and with his aunt and uncle. His mother died of leukemia when he was just six years old.

"I had to grow up really fast," Furlong told Today.com. "I've seen things that kids wouldn't ever see in their lives. I would be starving at night, and I've seen my dad physically abused in front of me. I don't take anything for granted any more."

Furlong will attend Florida State University starting this fall and plans to major in civil engineering. He has received housing scholarships for the university, and his friends and family set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for his tuition. "Never let anyone tell you that you can't do something, because I've been told that all my life," Furlong told Today.com. Watch an extended report on Furlong's experience over at NBC.