For Samantha Garvey, 2012 has quickly turned from auspicious to dream come true.
The 17-year-old high school student and her family have experienced the ultimate roller coaster of fortune; starting with eviction from their Long Island home on Jan. 1. After a week in a hotel, they moved into a homeless shelter in Bay Shore. Unbeknownst to Garvey, an aspiring marine biologist, she had been selected as a semifinalist in the national Intel science competition, an honor that could end up earning her a $100,000 grand prize.
News of her situation quickly spread — and so too did the donations. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was moved to do something for the Garveys and quickly made a three-bedroom, rent-subsidized home available to the family. Bellone called her story "an inspiration to millions of families in our country."
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) agreed — and has extended an invitation for Garvey to attend next month's State of the Union. “I want her to be an example of perseverance in the face of adversity,” he told the New York Daily News.
And then there's Ellen DeGeneres.
The comedian invited Garvey onto her show for an episode airing today, surprising her with a $50,000 college scholarship from AT&T.
"I know you want to continue your education," said Ellen. "You want to go to either Yale or Brown University. Well, we wanted to help you with that. So our friends at AT&T heard about your story and because of their commitment to the 'Aspire' program to education, they want to help you achieve your dreams. So they are going to give you a $50,000 scholarship to go to the school of your choice."
According to Newsdays' TV Zone, Samantha and her family also received a a $1,000 gift card to Whole Foods and $5,000 to JC Penney. Check out the heartwarming and tear-inducing video below: