During the pandemic, Michael Jeffery lost both of his jobs at Waffle House and at a clothing company in Washington, D.C. One thing led to another, and Jeffery lost his home. He found himself sleeping in a tent under a bridge in the Navy Yard neighborhood, according to NBC.
“I didn’t want to be stuck out here,” he told the outlet. “I don’t wish this on anybody, to be stuck out here.”
“We don’t want pity,” he added. “A lot of people in this situation is just like me. We want better, we want more.”
Today, Jeffery has turned his situation around. It started last year when he signed up for classes at the Goodwill Excel Center, a free charter high school for adults. The man took his classes and studied for a full school year while he remained without housing.
FROM HOMELESS TO HS GRAD: Michael Jeffery lived in a tent under a DC bridge for 2 years. He just got his HS diploma (and was valedictorian) at the Goodwill Excel Center, found permanent housing, and is now attending Catholic Univ. His inspiring journey tonight on @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/o9YnG0tEmt
— Aimee Cho (@AimeeCho4) July 24, 2023
“A lot of people don’t get that second chance, and Goodwill allowed that second chance for me, and I appreciate that,” he said of the opportunity the school brought him.
Goodwill Excel Center’s website describes its mission as “understanding that many students may come into the program with varying skills having been out of the classroom for some time” and “regardless of level.”
It adds, “we support the whole student, and respond to the fact that life commitments and circumstances can often stop people from continuing their high school education.”
Last week, Jeffrey graduated as valedictorian. The week before that, he moved into an apartment for the first time in two years since losing his home.
Michael Jeffery lost everything during the pandemic, including his home. While he lived under a bridge, he went to a free high school for adults and two years later he graduated valedictorian! Congratulations Michael, you’re an inspiration to us all! pic.twitter.com/x4znW7Lkkq
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) July 27, 2023
He will be starting college at Catholic University, where he will start studying in the fall. Jeffrey’s goal is to eventually get into law school.
“I’m studying legal studies,” he said. “Who would’ve thought that I would be studying legal studies, right? There was no hope in this tent, but I found it, so you see how far I’ve come and how far I will get.”