— Two weeks after attending the State of the Union address, formerly homeless teen Samantha Garvey was back in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, where she displayed her scientific acumen — and got a shout-out from the president.
Garvey, 18, a Long Island, N.Y. science whiz, garnered national headlines when she became a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search while she and her family were living in a homeless shelter.
Though she didn't make the finals in that competition, she was among 100 students from around the U.S. who attended the White House Science Fair Tuesday. She presented her project, 2 1/2 years in the making, examining the effect the ecosystem has on mollusks.
In his speech, President Obama lauded Garvey for overcoming "difficult circumstances," and joked that she might want to angle for a job with the various federal agency heads attending the fair, reports the Associated Press.
It's been a heady time for the brainy high school senior, who saw her life turned upside down when her family moved into a homeless shelter New Year's Day. Her father had lost his job and her mother was injured in a car accident that left her unable to work. Payments on their Brentwood, N.Y. home were in arrears and the family was evicted.
But Garvey has had a happy turn of events in recent weeks: Her local congressman Steve Israel made Garvey an honored guest at the State of the Union, and AT&T presented her with a $50,000 scholarship check during an appearance on "The Ellen Degeneres Show." Best of all, local social services worked to place Samantha and her family in subsidized housing.
Appearing on TODAY on Jan. 25 following her first trip to Washington, Garvey talked about keeping herself focused on her schoolwork despite her family's trying times.
"Throughout all the things I've faced, I've been able to go to school and get my education...do my studies," she told Ann Curry.
"My parents always say 'keep your head up.' If you look down and mope, nothing is going to come out of it.' I always took that to heart."