Formerly homeless teen, Kendal Benjamin, enrolls at SC State - - Columbia, South Carolina

Formerly homeless teen enrolls at South Carolina State University


It's been a tough road for Kendal Benjamin -- one filled with hard work and struggle, but one ultimately giving him the power he needed to get to where he is these days.

Benjamin, 17, was homeless months ago as he prepared to walk across the stage and graduate C.A. Johnson High School. He lived at Palmetto Place Children's Shelter with 19 other roommates.

But still, he persevered. Instead of pitying himself or asking others to pity him, he parlayed that energy into self-discipline on the athletic fields, excelling in football and track.

Now, he's a college freshman and has enrolled at South Carolina State University.

It has been a long journey to moving day, but SC State will now be Kendal's new home for the next four years.

Kendal can't believe it.

"I was just in high school two months ago now I'm in college," Benjamin said. "I didn't get any sleep last night. I was just like 'wow' I'm going to college tomorrow. "

With the help of his mom, grandfather, brother and new SC State family, Kendal is getting settled into his new dorm room.

"I'm excited one minute, then I'm anxious the next and then I'm sad, then I'm happy, it's just a mix of emotions," said Kendal's mom, Zelda.

A roller coaster for mom and Kendal. While Kendal is eager for more independence, he credits his mom and entire support system for keeping him focused through the many journeys that got him here.

"They always kept me in church and my pastor and church family taught me to never quit and keep my faith," Kendal said.

Kendal also relies on his mentor for advice.

"Time management, being responsible, not getting caught up in everything that happens in college because it all happens to us so I was just letting him know, you have to kind of watch those things and keep the priorities in front of him," said Kevin Rasberry.

One priority is academics the other, Kendal says is remaining close to his mother.

"We need each other so we're helping each other grow," Kendal said.

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