IMPACT
06/06/2013 06:23 pm ET Updated Jun 12, 2013

California Teen Who Was Abandoned By Dad And Grew Up Dirt Poor Headed To Harvard (VIDEO)

His dad abandoned him when he was a baby and he grew up destitute, but no amount of hardship could keep Lloyd Chen from fulfilling his ultimate dream –- going to Harvard.

The Laguna Creek High School senior –- who was named valedictorian and graduated with a 4.79 GPA last month –- was accepted with a full scholarship to nine competitive universities, including Yale, Harvard, Princeton and MIT, according to CBS Sacramento. But the road to his astounding success wasn't an easy one.

After his mother, Susie Yun, emigrated from South Korea, her husband left her to take care of Lloyd and his two sisters on her own, KCRA reported. Money was so tight that Yun would often drop Chen off at school and sit in her car for the remainder of the day until he was ready to go home, because she couldn’t afford to pay for gas.

While Chen had the grades, and the impressive extracurricular activities –- he was co-president of the mathletes and vice president of the key club, according to FOX 40, he was still surprised that so many top universities were vying for his enrollment.

“It was so shocking and so gratifying,” the star student told CBS. “And it was just a blessing.”

Chen’s perseverance is incredibly inspiring, but he won’t be the only member of the class of 2017 to have faced incredible financial challenges while growing up.

David Boone, 18, will also be attending Harvard in the fall and he, too, faced many daunting challenges along the way.

When he was 14 years old, gang members destroyed his Cleveland home because he refused to join their group, Boone wrote in a blog for The Huffington Post. He and his siblings were then split up, because his mother couldn’t afford to buy a new house and he ended up spending many nights sleeping on park benches.

"All of these life lessons have shaped me into who I am, transforming my dreams and aspirations and allowing me to free myself from what was becoming an unproductive environment," Boone wrote in his blog.

Chen shared a similar sentiment about how each individual has the power to shape his or her future.

“It is your choice to have a fulfilling life -- as it puts the burden on you,” Chen said in his graduation speech, according to KCRA. “But it also gives you the power to do something about it. So do it.”

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