“This is where I live, this was my home for two years. ”  

A tent beneath a bridge in Navy Yard. This is where Michael Jeffery slept every night in the freezing, cold winters and blazing, hot summers. 

“I don’t wanna be stuck out here. I don’t wish it on anybody to be stuck out here.”

Jeffery used to work at Waffle house and a clothing company. He lost both jobs and his home  during the pandemic, but he always had hope things would get better. 

“We don’t want pity. A lot of people in this situation is just like me, like we want better, we want more.”

It’s why he enrolled at the Goodwill Excel Center, a free charter high school for adults. For an  entire school year, Jeffery took classes while still studying and living in the tent. 

“A lot of people don’t get that second chance. And, Goodwill allowed that second chance for me. And I appreciate that.”

Last week, not only did he get his high school diploma, he did so as valedictorian.

valedictorian Michael Jeffery

“I am proud of you guys.”

Two weeks ago, Jeffery moved out of his tent into an apartment. He’s starting a Catholic university in the fall and hopes to eventually attend law school. 

“I’m studying legal studies. Who would have thought I’d be studying legal studies, right? There was no hope in this tent but I found it. So you see why how far I came, and how far I will get, so yeah.”

A new chapter for this graduate who never gave up. 

Aimee Cho, News 4.