Homeless N.M. high school student earns full ride to college

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Friday, July 19, 2019
Homeless teen gets full ride to college
An 18-year-old student who spent nearly half of high school living in his car is now headed to college on a full scholarship.

SANTA FE, N.M. -- An 18-year-old student in Santa Fe, New Mexico, spent nearly half of his high school years living in his car.

Edgar Sarceno stayed busy tutoring children, keeping his grades up and holding multiple jobs. No one ever knew he was homeless.

Sarceno told KOAT-TV that he didn't have any family support, and he didn't ask for help from others.

"It was really hard to not be the person that makes everybody sad," Sarceno said.

Instead, he spent much of his time volunteering at nonprofit Reading Quest, teaching children to read.

"I always want to be the person I needed when I was their age," Sarceno said.

Reading Quest Founder Rayna Dineen said she never knew Sarceno's story.

"He was always on time, always impeccably dressed and looked terrific and was on his game every time," Dineen said.

Dineen said she only learned of Sarceno's homelessness after she grew concerned when he didn't show up for work one day.

"Finally, he got back to me and said, 'I'm sorry, I don't have a phone and my car broke down.' And then he finally told me," she said.

Sarceno eventually opened up to an English teacher when he asked for help editing his college essay, which detailed his hardships.

"That was my own way of telling them I need help," said Sarceno.

With help and his own determination, the 18-year-old has landed a full-ride scholarship to Bates College in Maine.

"I want to study philosophy. I want to study art and economics, reading and writing," he said.

The Santa Fe community has also rallied behind Sarceo, gifting him a new phone and car.

"I kind of realized that human connection is what could save me," he said.

Sarceno hopes to eventually pursue a graduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and become an engineer.