Growing up California, Lloyd Chen and his family had very little money and more than their share of challenges. But the recent high school graduate didn't let his humble beginnings slow him down.
Chen, 17, was crowned valedictorian of his high school with an astounding 4.79 GPA. And he has received nearly $3 million in scholarship offers from top-tier universities, including Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, UCLA and University of California, Berkeley. Chen chose Harvard.
Chen's difficult childhood makes his story even more amazing. The Daily Mail reports that he was born in South Korea and moved with his family to the United States when he was a young child. A short time later, his father left him, his mother and two older sisters. Even more challenging, his mother suffered from an autoimmune deficiency that left her unable to work.
The Daily Mail notes that Chen's mother was so concerned about money, she would sometimes stay at her son's school all day after dropping him off in the morning to save gas.
In various news reports, Chen credited his mother's love and dedication. "She's definitely always been there for me and supported me. ... Whatever opportunities are available to you, just make sure you take advantage of them," Chen said.
Speaking to NBC Los Angeles, Chen's high school counselor Alycia Sato credited Chen with being mature beyond his years. "I’ve never met anyone who’s had so many things going against them, who’s risen above them all," she said.
KCRA.com reports that in his valedictorian speech, Chen told his classmates, "It's your choice to have a fulfilling life as it puts the burden on you, but it also gives you the power to do something about it. So do it."