In an inspiring display of perseverance and determination, Elijah Hogan, a 19-year-old from New Orleans, has achieved an extraordinary feat. Despite living in a homeless shelter, Hogan graduated as the valedictorian of Walter C. Cohen High School, proving that grit and hard work can overcome even the most daunting circumstances. This fall, he is set to attend Xavier University of Louisiana, continuing his journey toward a brighter future.

Hogan’s high school journey began remotely during the pandemic, a challenging situation for students across the nation. However, Hogan faced an additional hurdle: he was living in Covenant House, a homeless shelter for youth. In a recent interview with “Good Morning America,” Hogan reflected on his senior year, acknowledging the difficulties he faced. “It’s been tough and rough, had a few trips and falls down, but I’m alright,” he said. Hogan’s resilience paid off as he completed his high school career with a near-perfect GPA of 3.93, tying for the valedictorian title.

At the Walter C. Cohen commencement ceremony, Hogan delivered a heartfelt speech, expressing gratitude for the community support that helped him succeed. “I have people that were there to help me get through it. And without them, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now as a valedictorian,” he said. His speech served as a thank-you letter to the school, staff, students, and their parents for their support during his high school years. “As time went on, I started to build up relationships, met some wonderful people, got to know a lot of people, as well as forming relationships and trust with them,” Hogan noted.

Jana DeCoaster, director of student activities at Cohen High School, was one of the influential figures in Hogan’s life, guiding him through his high school journey. DeCoaster emphasized the importance of the support system that helped Hogan and his classmates succeed. “All of our students experience different levels of trauma, different experiences, and I think Elijah recognizes that he had adults in his corner, but all of our students who made it to graduation also had adults in their corner,” she said.

DeCoaster also praised Hogan for his gratitude towards those who assisted him. “It is rare that they get thanked at graduation on such a large stage. The fact that he is so gracious to think of not just himself, but all of his classmates, is just really special,” she added.

Hogan’s case worker at Covenant House, who has observed his growth over the past year, spoke highly of him. “Being in a homeless shelter is traumatic. Whatever you went through to get you here is traumatic,” she said, noting the significant changes in Hogan since they first met.

As Hogan prepares to embark on his college journey at Xavier University of Louisiana, he offered encouraging advice to his classmates. “There is a time and place where you can have fun, but try to keep yourself organized on some of your education as well, because without your education, you will not be able to get through the hardships and meet the people that helped you along the way,” he advised.

Elijah Hogan’s story is a powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit and the importance of community support. His journey from homelessness to valedictorian is a reminder that with determination and the right support, anyone can overcome their circumstances and achieve greatness.