The story of Martin Folsom is one of triumph amid excruciating challenges financially and socially. Faced with inestimable hardships including being homeless and living in a shelter with his mother, Folsom always had one thing in mind – giving sense to his life.
The Florida high school senior is now graduating the top of his class as valedictorian at A. Philip Randolph Career Academy in Jacksonville.
Speaking to Action News Jax, Folsom observed that topping his class despite the setbacks “means a lot and gives me a sense of all I’ve done and all I have accomplished was worth it.”
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“It’s been a rocky road, been a lot of hardships, but seeing myself here right now, about to graduate and go to college, it feels good knowing that all the stuff I’ve done, it was worth it,” Folsom said.
Folsom and his mother reportedly struggled with homelessness since he was a kid and throughout his high school education. And he credited her for his ability to resist falling off as many often do when faced with trials.
“She has been the person that, whenever I did end up getting upset or whenever I needed somebody to laugh with her talk to, she was always there she was always encouraging me,” he told Action News Jax.
According to the annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, in 2019, an estimated 568,000 Americans experienced homelessness, with African Americans making up about 40% of that total.
When looking at the number of homeless people with children, African Americans accounted for about 52% of that population, with whites accounting for about 35%, the report said.
Folsom intends to attend Valdosta State University. He hopes to one day work for the FBI, Fox 13 reports. The outlet further reports that Folsom served as the class president for his grade for four years straight, from 9th grade to 12th grade.