Orayne Williams: From Kingston, Jamaica; to a Homeless Shelter; Now to College

Anyone one who knows me will tell you that I have a soft spot for the homeless, and downtrodden. Often, I bring to light the everyday madness on this site; but today, here’s some reality with an awesome ending.

So, check out the story of Orayne Williams (pictured above), and how he overcame serious odds to be granted a full ride college scholarship just about a month ago. Hopefully you’ll find this inspirational:
Homeless high school grad Orayne Williams is getting the ride of his life – a full scholarship to a four-year college.

Abandoned by his family and living alone in a Brooklyn shelter, Williams, 18, excelled at school with a 91 average at Bedford Academy in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The Daily News broke his story on June 15, and since then, he’s received more than $15,000 in scholarship money from readers.

Now, Manhattanville College in Purchase, Westchester County, has offered Williams a slot and a promise to cover any expenses he can’t pay.

“I was speechless,” said Williams. “I didn’t think it was going to happen, but it did.”

Born into a poor family outside Kingston, Jamaica, Williams was sent to live in Florida alone at age 12. In 2007, he was reunited with his mother and half sister at a Brooklyn homeless shelter.

In November, his mother kicked him out, and city Education Department social worker Wayne Harris found him a spot at a shelter for young men in Williamsburg.

Williams still managed to do well, taking three Advanced Placement classes, earning an A average, and winning a spot at an upstate two-year community college on scholarship.

All that changed after Manhattanville College President Molly Easo Smith read Williams’ story in The News. “His hunger for education really meant something to me,” said Smith. “It touched a nerve.”

Although Smith didn’t know if Manhattanville would be able to pay Williams’ way, she encouraged him to apply.

Last Tuesday, Smith learned that the school had enough scholarship money available to cover Williams’ expenses, which will work out to about $47,000 a year.

She called Harris – and that night the social worker broke the news to Williams at a support meeting for homeless teens. The room erupted into thunderous applause.

“I felt like I hit a 3-point jump shot,” said Harris. “I clenched my fist, like, ‘Yes!'” (source)

Williams will be moving to Westchester this month to attend the college, where he plans to major in biology. “Of course I’ll miss Brooklyn, but I’ll be back,” Williams said. “Life is just taking its course.”Having worked and volunteered in homeless shelters in recent years, this story really warms my heart. More than anything, what really bugs you when in the shelter environment, are the faces of the many kids you encounter. It’s truly a hard-knock-life for many of them, and breaks such as this one doesn’t come too often…

Especially for a kid from the Caribbean with similar circumstances.

To understand how poverty affects the education of children CLICK HERE!