A New Jersey teen who faced homelessness now has the pick of the lot when it comes to where he’ll pursue his education after being accepted to 17 of the 18 colleges to which he applied.
Dylan Chidick, a senior at Henry Snyder High School in Jersey City, was all smiles after the impressive feat and will be the first in his family to attend college, NBC News reports. The road to success hasn’t been easy, however, as Chidick and his family have faced prejudice, financial hardship, and homelessness since immigrating to the U.S. from Trinidad 10 years ago.
His twin brothers, now 11, also suffer from a debilitating heart condition that required open-heart surgery. The road became particularly rough in 2017, when Chidick’s mother lost her job and the family ultimately lost their home.
Although the odds were stacked against him, Chidick remained determined through it all.
“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,” the 17-year-old told CBS New York.
The college-bound teen has a lot to be proud of. As reported by NBC News, Chidick has been class president for the past three years and was elected vice president of his school’s National Honor Society chapter. He also serves as a young ambassador for Jersey City.
The teen said it was the courage of his single mother to reach out for help from local non-profit Women Rising Inc. that inspired him to be better and work harder. The organization, based in Jersey City, helps women and their families lead “self-sufficient, productive and fulfilling” lives, and has provided Chidick’s family with stable housing and a safe place to study.
“It has been hard financially, we have been homeless,” Chidick’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,” her son added. “The dream I want to achieve, I have to have a lot of determination.”
Chidick is now working to whittle down his options after being accepted into 17 schools, including New Jersey City University, Kean University, Ramapo College and York College of Pennsylvania, among others. However, the teen said he’s still waiting to hear back from his top choice: the College of New Jersey.
As noted by The New York Times, Chidick’s recent success stands in sharp contrast to the stories of privilege and wealth revealed by the recent college admissions scandal in which parents shelled out millions of dollars to buy their children’s admission into the country’s most elite colleges. Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among the 50 people charged Tuesday in what officials called the “largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted” in the U.S.
Chidick, who’s seen enough hardship in his lifetime, described the situation as “unfair.”
“I know that it has been happening for a long time,” he told The New York Times of the scandal, “and there is always going to be someone with more privilege and more connections, to have it easier than others.”
“And that means that you have to work harder to achieve the same goals,” he added.
Watch more in the video below.