Friday, January 13, 2012

Samantha Garvey Semifinalists in the National Intel Science Search

Samantha Garvey

By Greg Cergol

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

Samantha Garvey, 17, is among 61 Long Island teens designated as semifinalists in the National Intel Science Search.

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. "That's the mentality."

Local government officials and members of the community have rallied to help the family, and during a Friday news conference, Suffolk County officials offered the family a rent-subsidized home. County Executive Steve Bellone said Garvey and her family could move into the house in about 10 days.

Garvey said this was the second time the family had to move to 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 2½-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.

This report was updated by

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