De­ter­mined stu­dent fights against odds

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON de­v­er­son@cov­

A for­mer Al­covy High School stu­dent, who along with his twin brother has been self-suf­fi­cient and liv­ing on his own since age 16, is ag­gres­sively pur­su­ing a col­lege de­gree, de­spite high tu­ition costs and ex­pen­sive hous­ing.

Nathaniel Hodges, 21, and his twin brother Michael were adopted by their grand­par­ents in 1992, shortly af­ter a court deemed their mother un­fit to raise them. Their grand­fa­ther passed away when they were 12, and their grand­mother passed away four years later.

The brothers con­tin­ued liv­ing in their grand­par­ents’ home with­out a care­taker, sur­viv­ing on only their grand­mother’s di­min­ish­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity pay­ments. Against the odds, the twins grad­u­ated high school and were both ac­cepted at Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity, where they de­cided to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion.

Nathaniel and his brother made the tran­si­tion to col­lege, liv­ing on cam­pus and com­plet­ing their fresh­man year. How­ever, Nathaniel said, cir­cum­stances dur­ing his fall 2013 se­mes­ter at GSU left him with­out hous­ing and forced him to drop all of his col­lege classes.

“It is en­tirely too ex­pen­sive to live in­side the dorms. For my first year, I couldn’t do any­thing. I had no ex­tra funds,” Nathaniel said. “So I moved out. I found a cheap apart­ment close to the school.”

“Even­tu­ally what hap­pens is I had a friend who had an emer­gency. I was do­ing slightly well, so I helped her out. While do­ing this, my car breaks down. Well, she is try­ing to find a new place to live. So even­tu­ally I get her into a pro­gram which tran­si­tions her into hous­ing, and she’s fine now. But I have a bro­ken car.”

Nathaniel said he had his car fixed with what money he had left from fi­nan­cial aid, but soon found he didn’t have enough funds to cover the

cost of his apart­ment. He weighed his op­tions and de­cided to move back to Cov­ing­ton with friends, but he ex­plained that the so­lu­tion wasn’t work­ing out so well, as his classes were in At­lanta. Even­tu­ally, Nathaniel found a home­less shel­ter for youths in At­lanta called Lost and Found, where he is cur­rently stay­ing to get back on his feet. He also met a pro­fes­sional from Ge­or­gia Perime­ter Col­lege who helped him en­roll in online classes part-time for the spring se­mes­ter.

“I de­cided that I should just drop all my classes un­til I could find out some­thing else to do. I knew that Ge­or­gia Perime­ter was less ex­pen­sive. What I re­ally needed to do was find a job and keep it for six months be­cause that al­lows me (to look) for fur­ther em­ploy­ment, which is pretty much what I’m do­ing right now,” he said.

Nathaniel said he’s op­ti­mistic about his fu­ture. He said his brother Michael, who also had a tough se­mes­ter at GSU dur­ing their fresh­man year, is now do­ing very well and is con­tin­u­ing to pur­sue a de­gree in In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy.

“He’s (Michael) set up to be with an ex­change pro­gram. He’ll be go­ing to Liecht­en­stein, which is the rich­est coun­try in the world and it’s over in Europe near Ger­many,” Nathaniel said. “He’ll be go­ing there this sum­mer.”

Nathaniel said he and his brother grew al­ways think­ing ahead.

“At no time did we have (time) to just sit down and col­lect our­selves. We’ve al­ways had to go to the next step. Like right af­ter high school, it was straight into col­lege. We’ve been through the death of both of our par­ents. We have strug­gled fi­nan­cially through high school,” he said.

Af­ter a bout of hard­ships and chal­lenges, Nathaniel set up a “Go­FundMe” ac­count online, where he said friends have been do­nat­ing money to his “Col­lege and Emer­gency Fund.” So far, he has raised more than $400, which he ex­pressed his grat­i­tude for by post­ing his thanks to friends on his Face­book page. Nathaniel is pur­su­ing a de­gree in sci­ence and said he wants to be­come an engi­neer. His over­all goal is to use his ex­pe­ri­ences to help the world and give back to his com­mu­nity, he said. But for now, he said, “My main goal is to get hous­ing and get back into school full-time.”

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Nathaniel Hodges, who along with his brother, was self-suf­fi­cient while at­tend­ing Al­covy High school, is de­ter­mined to get a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion.

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