Once homeless, Houston valedictorian now heading to Harvard

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Thursday, May 30, 2019
Teen's inspiring journey to Harvard
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HISD Energy Institute senior Derrick Ngo plans to go to Harvard next year.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Life hasn't always been easy for Derrick Ngo.

The senior at HISD's Energy Institute is at the top of his class. He found out a couple of months ago that he's been accepted to Harvard University. But he's had to overcome many challenges to get to where he is.

"Growing up, we faced a lot of issues with food insecurity," said Ngo. "My mother was incarcerated several times. For me and my siblings, there was a lot of instability. I did have occasional bouts of, 'Where am I going to live?'"

Ngo found EMERGE Fellowship, a non-profit that works with school districts to identify low income, high achieving students and prepare them to attend selective colleges and universities.

"If I didn't EMERGE, I probably wouldn't be attending a school like Harvard," said Ngo. "EMERGE has given me access to test prep, resume development training. It's given me an opportunity to go on a college tour."

He also credits his EMERGE mentor Judy Le for helping him

"She is probably one of the most amazing people I've met," said Ngo.

"He comes over for dinner all the time," said Le. "He's just part of the family. When I found out he got into Harvard, I started crying."

In May, Ngo found out he earned the school's valedictorian title.

ABC13 caught up with Ngo to hear more about his inspiring path to the Ivy League.

For more information on EMERGE Fellowship, click here.