UPDATE: Since Seth's story was shared, folks from all 50 states and from 20 countries around the world have stepped up to help him make his dream of attending Georgetown University a reality.
At this writing the GoFundMe campaign has surpassed the $132,000 mark.
A new statement from Seth Owen reads, in part:
While the campaign has been ongoing, the professionals at the Office of Student Financial Services have continued to work with me to make my dream a reality. Due to their efforts and attention, they were able to adjust my aid package even further, my expected contribution is now $0. With these new adjustments, I will be able to attend Georgetown University this fall.
The Office of Student Financial Services was instrumental in helping me enroll in the Georgetown Scholarship Program, whose purpose is to make attendance at Georgetown possible for students in a financial situation similar to my own. This program also includes mentoring and networking opportunities which will help me to assist others in situations similar to the one I found myself in earlier this year.
Just about everyone’s senior year of high school is fraught with stress, obstacles and challenges.
But its safe to say most teens don’t have the year Seth Owen just faced.
In the middle of his sophomore year in Jacksonville, Florida, his father decided to take an unapproved dive into his son’s cell phone, and in doing so realized Owen was gay.
His “Christian” parents gave him an ultimatum: submit to so-called “conversion therapy” counseling and attend their anti-LGBTQ church or leave the house.
Speaking to News4Jax, Owen explained, “They made it clear the intention was to make me straight.”
While he continued to live with his parents, Seth found reasons to stay away from home. From after-school programs to swimming, Owen says he felt like he was “doing something good with the struggle instead of doing something damaging.”
When he finally put his foot down about the anti-LGBTQ church, he was forced to move out this past February with no financial or emotional support from his parents.
“I was really, really upset,” Owen shares. “It was extremely hurtful to know that I was walking out that door not knowing what lay ahead and feeling I don’t know how to explain it, it was devastating, absolutely devastating.”
Sleeping on friends couches and holding down jobs to support himself, Owen did what seems almost impossible: he maintained a 4.16 GPA becoming the co-valedictorian of First Coast High School’s class of 2018.
Owen had already been accepted to Georgetown University receiving a $50,000 scholarship. But, the remaining $27,000 of the $77,000 annual tuition was to be covered by his parents.
With no support in sight from his parents, one of Owen’s teachers created a crowd funding campaign to help the 18-year old.
“I don’t think thank you is good enough,” Owen says. “Of course I am extremely grateful, but I think thank you doesn’t say it. Now it’s time to pay it forward.”
With an inspiring attitude, Owen says he plans to become a defense attorney for neglected teens who find themselves in situations like his.
Watch the report from News4Jax below.
UPDATE: After publishing our report on Seth Owen, a Georgetown University spokesperson reached out with this statement:
“Georgetown University admits and enrolls students without regard to their financial circumstances and is committed to meeting the demonstrated financial need of eligible students through a combination of aid programs that include grants, scholarships, employment and loans from federal, state, private, and University resources. While we cannot comment on any individual case, we work closely with students whose financial circumstances change after admission to modify financial aid assistance and ensure they can still enroll regardless of their ability to pay.”