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Samantha Garvey's amazing grit

Samantha Natalie Garvey, 17, of Bay Shore, is

Samantha Natalie Garvey, 17, of Bay Shore, is shown at Brentwood High School. Samantha, whose family is homeless, was nominated as an Intel Semifinalist. Photo Credit: Chris Ware

First Intel. Then Hollywood.

That would seem to be the logical sequence for the touching story of 17-year-old Samantha Garvey, a Brentwood High School senior who was named a semifinalist this week in the prestigious Intel science competition.

Long Island, of course, produces Intel semifinalists the way Buffalo produces snow. The remarkable thing about Samantha is that her family is homeless, and her story of determination and achievement against all odds is enough to warm the heart of the most hardened sourpuss.

Samantha somehow found the strength to overcome her family's troubles and complete her research on how local mussels cope with Asian shore crabs, an invasive predator (they harden their shells). The Garveys were homeless for a stretch when Samantha was a little girl. While she was working on her project, the family had a roof over its head. But financial reversals following a car accident last year led them this month to a Bay Shore shelter. Now an anonymous donor has stepped forward to save the family's pet dog from euthanasia.

At least the Garveys (there are five of them) are all together, suggesting that perhaps family togetherness and encouragement played a role in Samantha's success. Her story is a reminder of how important it is not to generalize about the homeless, who come in all shapes and sizes and levels of distress.

Through it all, young Samantha has managed to keep her ambitions alive.