There are stories that make you cheer and Samantha Garvey’s is one of them. Her light is just beginning to shine but I’m certain in a few more years its intensity will become much brighter. She entered the world prematurely, raring to begin her human experience. At only 2 pounds and 14 ounces at birth, we might have easily have lost her. In her 17 brief years, she has had her share of adversity. Her mother’s automobile accident caused injuries that left her unemployed for almost 8 months. Her father’s income as a taxi driver was not enough to sustain them. The eviction from their rented home on New Year’s Eve came at the most inopportune time.  Her father moved the family into a hotel temporarily but they eventually ended up in a homeless shelter, something that has happened more than once during Samantha’s childhood. Samantha immersed herself in school and for the past 2 years, was involved in a research project in marine biology. Ironically, her research project involved looking at the response of mussels when they are in the midst of adversity. What did Samantha discover? The greater the danger encountered by the mussels, the thicker their shells became.  A lesson we can all apply to life.

Samantha submitted her research project to the national Intel science competition and made the competitive semi-finals. She is now one of 300 students nationwide who have a chance of winning the top prize of $100,000. And it gets even better. The county social service department found a home for Samantha’s family at a subsidized rent and a private corporation is donating furniture. Hopefully, she will also hear good news from Brown and Yale Universities where she has submitted her applications for freshman admission.

When Olga and Leo Garvey bought their 2 pound 14 ounce daughter into the world, they gave us a gift. Let Samantha’s resilience and determination be an inspiration to us all, especially to parents of premature babies. Somewhere on the other side of the rainbow, the angels are smiling, and we are too. Congratulations, Samantha. I’m sure we’ll hear about you again in the near future.