Memphis teen overcomes homelessness to earn $3 million in scholarships, valedictorian honors

Phillip Jackson
Memphis teen overcomes homelessness to earn $3 million in scholarships, valedictorian honors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tupac Mosley, 17, received a text from his mother Tuesday asking if he felt overwhelmed after receiving $3 million in scholarships and the honor of high school valedictorian.

The scholarships, announced Sunday at Raleigh Egypt High School's graduation ceremony, ran from one page of the graduation program to the next. Mosley, who earned a 4.3 GPA, sat on the stage. He felt shocked.

Mosley, a once-homeless Memphis teen, said his father died at the end of his sophomore year. After his father's passing came financial struggles. Principals, teachers and other staff began reaching out to him.

"I did not expect me to be the person who is representing my community at this caliber," Mosley said.

"I now see the true impact that I can have on children going through situations similar to mine, or even worse than mine."

Right after his sophomore year, Mosley scored a 31 on his ACT. This year, he received the Gates Scholarship, a full scholarship "for exceptional, Pell-eligible, minority high school seniors."

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Mosley's final semester was his most trying because of life outside of school. In February, he had to move out of his home and just recently established a permanent residence.

The support system that followed him through his journey in school motivated him to be greater, Mosley said.

"Anytime I feel like this is too much for me to handle, this is overbearing, I can't do this anymore, they have always been in my ear to me to make sure that I never give up," Mosley said. "I didn't want to disappoint them."

Tupac Mosley, 17, graduated from Raleigh Egypt High School this spring as the school's valedictorian- despite becoming homeless- finding ways to maintain high achievement marks in school all while wondering where he would sleep at night.

Mosley was always at the top of his class academically, and was a valedictorian in middle school. He knew when the success continued in high school, he could win scholarship money, he said. 

His classmates were also supportive, and Mosley said he wants to walk the next chapter of his life with them.

Mosley said he hopes to come back to Memphis and tell kids not to let their circumstance be in the way of what they want in their future.

After finishing his electrical engineering studies at Tennessee State University, he wants to come back to Memphis to teach students coding and expose them to more engineering opportunities. 

"I would love to see people from low-income households become these great engineers, doctors and lawyers. They can do it too," Mosley said. "I see it as the best way to serve my community in the future."

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis teen overcomes homelessness to earn $3 million in scholarships, valedictorian honors