Jan 7, 2019 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Research consistently points to an access gap in higher education between students from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds. But this isn’t to say it’s not possible to overcome the barriers. There’s no better example of this than the case of Richard "Tre" Jenkins, who grew up without a home and is now an Ivy League student. Here’s a closer look at his journey, as reported by CNBC.

An Inspiring Story

Richard Jenkins spent his childhood bouncing between shelters, hospitals, and motels in the Philadelphia area. Despite these challenges, he remained committed to his academics, earning a spot at a prestigious college prep boarding high school for students from families with limited financial resources, and becoming valedictorian of his high school class. There, he earned straight As...and admissions to Harvard on a full scholarship.

Looking back, Jenkins suggests that schools -- teachers, in particular -- can play a pivotal role in supporting students. “I think that having more communication is important, because just having someone to talk to can make a huge difference,” he told CNBC.

A Full Ride

Harvard’s policy of paying the full tuition price tag for all students from households earning less than $65,000 further paved Jenkins’ road to becoming a Harvard student. “I didn’t realize it was a possibility until last year. My goal has always been to go to a school where I wouldn’t have to pay and where I wouldn’t graduate with debt,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins also has advice for students hoping to follow in his footsteps. He continued, “My drive comes from just wanting to see myself and my family be in a better situation and I do think drive is important for everybody, but what’s more important is that once you find what it is that you want, you have to keep working for it. People may think that they’ve done enough, but it’s never enough.”

Learn more about earning your bachelor's degree.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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