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New Orleans student graduates as valedictorian after living in homeless shelter

Elijah Hogan graduated from Walter L. Cohen charter high school in New Orleans as one of two valedictorians after living in a homeless shelter for youth for more than a year.

From a New Orleans homeless shelter to the top of his high school class, Elijah Hogan has already conquered much in life.

Hogan recently graduated as one of two valedictorians at Walter L. Cohen charter high school, despite living in a homeless shelter for youth for more than a year.

"It's been tough and rough" but he's alright, Hogan told "Good Morning America."


Hogan, 19, was just 8 when his mother died. He had been living with his grandmother but he ended up in the Covenant House shelter before his senior year of high school.

Despite the housing insecurity, Hogan pushed through to finish with a 3.93 GPA. In a speech at the school's graduation ceremony, Hogan applauded his classmates for pushing themselves "to reach the pinnacle of success." The group started high school amid the pandemic.

"Above all the trials, tests and hardships, what led us here is that we all set a goal to reach," Hogan said. "Take pride in how far you have come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy your journey."

He also called the speech a "thank-you note" to the community who helped him.

Hogan's character helped him succeed, Jerel Bryant, CEO of Collegiate Academies, which runs the high school, told The Associated Press.

Jarkayla Cobb, Hogan’s case worker at Covenant House, noted how shy Hogan was when he first arrived at the shelter.

"Being in a homeless shelter is traumatic. Whatever you went through to get you here is traumatic," Cobb said.

Hogan now plans to attend Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where he said he will be receiving some tuition assistance while pursuing a degree in graphic design.

He encouraged any students who are struggling through hardship to remain focused on their education.

"Because without your education, you will not be able to get through the hardships and meet the people that helped you along the way," Hogan said.

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