Seth Owen, 18, said attending college has always been his “life goal,” one he has been working on diligently since elementary school.
“I was the nerd in fifth grade who walked around recess talking about how I wanted to be an astronaut,” Owen told NBC News. “I was always in a textbook, always in the library, always reading something.”
With a 4.16 GPA and an acceptance letter from Georgetown University, it seemed like the high school valedictorian’s dream would become a reality. But when he received his financial aid package from the prestigious school, a different reality set in: The financial aid package had been determined based on the expected contribution of his family, a family he said drove him out of his home due to his sexuality.
“I started to cry, because I realized there was no way that I could go to college,” he said. “Georgetown was my only option, because I had already denied my other acceptances.”
With Georgetown refusing to amend his financial aid package and $20,000 needed for his first year’s tuition, the Florida teen thought his situation was hopeless. But then his former biology teacher stepped in.
“Seth was just a kid that really stood out to me,” the teacher, Jane Martin, told NBC News. “He was super ambitious and was always trying to go above and beyond to make sure he could be as successful as possible.”
Martin set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Owen’s tuition, hoping to “make the impossible possible,” and she succeeded. As of Tuesday afternoon, the fundraising page raised over $50,000 — more than double its initial $20,000 goal.
“AWKWARD CONVERSION THERAPY”
Trouble at home began for Owen during his sophomore year of high school, when his Southern Baptist parents discovered he was gay.
“I was writing a paper, and my dad decided to check my phone late in the evening,” Owen recalled. “He found a damning photograph of me and another guy. Nothing inappropriate, but it clearly indicated that I was gay.”