Once homeless, NJ teen gets 17 college acceptance letters

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBS NEWS) — A determined New Jersey teenager just overcame the odds to be the first in his family to go to college — in an epic way.

Despite dealing with homelessness throughout his life,17-year-old Dylan Chidick now has his choice of colleges to pick from after receiving 17 acceptance letters, CBS New York reported.

After moving from Trinidad at 7 years old and becoming a citizen, Chidick and his family went through countless heartaches. His younger twin brothers are living with serious heart conditions and his family has been in and out of homelessness.

“My family went through a lot and there has been a lot of people saying, ‘you can’t do that,’ or ‘you’re not going to achieve this,’ and me — getting these acceptances — kind of verifies what I have been saying. I can do it and I will do it,” Chidick said.

The Jersey City student set his goals high and met them. He became the senior class president at Henry Snyder High School and got inducted into the honor society. Now, he is looking to become the first in his family to attend college.

“The dream I want to achieve, I have to have a lot of determination,” he said.

It was his single mother’s courage to ask for help from the non-profit group Women Rising that Chidick said makes him want to do better.

“It has been hard financially, we have been homeless,” the teen’s mother, Khadine Phillip, said.

“Making herself vulnerable and putting herself out there, that made me determined to never let us get back in that situation again,” Chidick added.

“She is a great example in doing everything necessary to help her children,” said Roseann Mazzeo, executive director for Women Rising.

Among many things, the center has put them up in permanent supportive housing, giving Chidick a safe place to study and wait on his last acceptance letter.

“The College of New Jersey. I haven’t heard back yet, but that is my top school right now,” he said. Given his financial situation, the costs for all the college applications were waived.

Chidick hopes 18 will be his lucky number and bring him 18 choices for a bright future.

When he figures out where he wants to go, Chidick said he wants to study political science.

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