Samantha Garvey thrilled by Obama's mention

President Barack Obama hosts the second White House

President Barack Obama hosts the second White House Science Fair celebrating the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. The President talked with Samantha Garvey, 18, of Bay Shore, about her environmental sciences project examining the effect of physical environment and predators on a specific species of mussel, in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Feb. 7, 2012) (Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Samantha Garvey, who was homeless when she was named a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search earlier this year, said she was thrilled to be mentioned -- though not by name -- by President Barack Obama at the close of the Democratic National Convention.

"This was one of the most exciting moments ever -- to hear that I was a source of inspiration for the president, thinking that I gave him hope," said Garvey, a freshman at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Garvey, then a Brentwood High School senior, and her family became homeless at the start of the year following several financial setbacks.

In his speech Thursday night, Obama said: "The young woman I met at a science fair who won national recognition for her biology research while living with her family at a homeless shelter -- she gives me hope."

Garvey was thrust into the national spotlight after Newsday broke her story; she soon appeared on the "Today Show," among other media outlets.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) selected Garvey as his guest to Obama's State of the Union address on Jan. 24 and the student spoke with the president about her environmental sciences project in February at the White House Science Fair.

"I told him a little about the research that I had done," she said in a phone interview Friday. "He said it was pretty interesting."

The Garveys moved to a three-bedroom, county-owned house in Bay Shore in late January. They say the modest rent makes the home affordable.

As for Garvey, she received a generous aid package from Bowdoin and will graduate debt free. She said she works part-time at the university, serving food and washing dishes at a dining hall to make extra money.

Garvey said she walks around campus with a permanent smile because of her good fortune.

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