A Manual Arts High School senior whose family of six was homeless for three months after his father lost his job will be attending Harvard University this fall, thanks to a USC program.
Jorge Campos, 17, currently lives with his family in Palmdale. His days are long, as he makes the approximately 140-mile round trip to his high school in South Los Angeles and back.
“Sometimes I’m getting home at midnight, and I have wake up the next morning at 5 or 4:30 ” he said.
But for Campos, the distance is nothing compared to what he’s been through.
Campos was only13 years old and set to begin high school when his father, an auto mechanic lost his job. The family was homeless for three months, living in a van, hotels and staying with relatives.
“Right now, I look back and instead of breaking down and crying , because they were very traumatic experiences, I just look at it what I lived through and look forward,” said Campos
As difficult as his circumstances were, he didn’t let that be an excuse from succeeding academically.
That year, Campos — a USC TRIO Upward Bound Scholar — enrolled in college level courses at Los Angeles Community College. He needs to complete just three classes to earn his associates degree in Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Homelessness was a motivating factor in shaping his education, as it prompted Campos to learn about finances, according to a news release from USC.
He even learned how his family could transition from a “high loan risk” to homeowners, which helped them purchase their home in Palmdale two years ago.
“I took on the budget. I took on the finances. All the bills that are paid at home run through me,” Campos told said
The son of Mexican parents, Campos grew up in South L.A. a few blocks away from the University of Southern California campus. He was invited to join the USC TRIO Upward Bound Math and Science program at his high school during his freshman year.
The program is geared toward helping high school students who are first-generation college bound, low-income students fulfill their potential and go to university. It provides students like Campos educational tools and resources at USC.
About 2,500 students are currently in the program, which is in its 40th year, the release stated.
Campos credits this program with helping achieve his success.