Once-homeless teen becomes valedictorian at Nassau Community College
A once-homeless teen is sharing her impressive story of how she overcame some obstacles to make it all the way to becoming the valedictorian of her class at Nassau Community College.
Karol Rubiano is set to be the shining star at the college's virtual graduation ceremony Sunday.
The road to valedictorian wasn't easy for Rubiano.
"I came to Nassau after 15 years of struggling with food insecurity and homelessness," says Rubiano.
Rubiano says when she was 22 she was forced to drop out of school in Florida because of homelessness and hunger.
"I was sleeping on friends' floors. When I was at school, I was taking food from the cafeteria, taking crackers from the cafeteria and making little sandwiches with the ketchup packets. Sometimes that was my dinner."
A few years ago, Rubiano moved to New York and her family helped her get back on her feet. She enrolled at Nassau Community College, worked hard and is now graduating.
Professor Deborah Panzer-Kilmnick is the chair of the Student Activities Committee, which chooses the valedictorian.
"Karol's story is the classic comeback kid story," says Panzer-Kilmnick. "When we interviewed her as a committee we were so impressed by her academically and just her leadership, her kindness, her authenticity was really what stood out."
Rubiano's speech focuses on overcoming challenges, her struggles and getting a second chance.
Rubiano is graduating with an Associate's Degree and wants to get her undergraduate degree and then a master's in social work.