Seth Owen is a college freshman at Georgetown University. However, despite having a 4.61 GPA and being his class valedictorian, his journey getting there was anything but easy.
The 18-year-old left his parents’ family home in Florida in January when they rejected him because of his sexuality. NBC News previously reported that his church repeatedly bashed the LGBTQ+ community and that his parents refused to switch churches when he asked. They even had him attempt conversion therapy.
When his parents presented him with an ultimatum — a choice between attending their church or moving out — Owen chose to leave. He told NBC News:
“The worst part was I was packing my bags. I was walking out the door, and I was hoping that my mom would stand in my way. I was hoping that she would say ‘I love my child more than I love my religion.’”
In addition to having to hop from couch to couch after moving out, Owen also learned that the scholarship Georgetown awarded him was based on his parents’ income and did not carry over now that he had declared himself independent. This news had him “devastated once again.”
However, Jane Martin, a teacher and a mentor to Owen, stepped up once she learned of his situation and set up a GoFundMe to help the teenager afford Georgetown.
Seth was admitted to Georgetown University and received a financial aid package based on the premise of parental support. Seth appealed this decision with letters from mental health professionals, school personnel, mentors, and community organizations, but Georgetown University has refused to amend his financial aid package leaving Seth with $20,000 bill to cover his first year.
Although it started off with a goal of $20,000, it was immensely exceeded, reaching over $140,000.GoFundMe
And now, in addition to being weeks into his freshman year at Georgetown, Owen recently appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to talk about his experiences. He told DeGeneres that the staff is “so supportive” and that:
“It’s amazing. I absolutely love it. I would not want to be anywhere else but Georgetown.”
“Our residential minister actually lives on my floor. She told me that she was there to support me, and as someone who’s been through something like this with religion, it meant the world to me to hear from a spiritual adviser that they had my back.”
Thanks to his teacher, hard work, and DeGeneres as a source of inspiration, Owen is finally able to fully be himself. And now he plans to give back. Since his GoFundMe campaign did so well, Owen intends on using the leftover money to start a scholarship for other students experiencing similar situations.
When DeGeneres, both impressed and supportive of Owen, got wind of his plans, she decided to make a contribution of her own. On her show, she told Owen:
“We’re partnering again this year with Cheerios to encourage one million acts of good, and they’re inspired by young people like you. They’re going to help you start your scholarship with this check for $25,000.”
Owen is starting college off strong, with support from many people close to him. There’s no doubt he has a bright future ahead.