You could say Christmas came early this year for 17 year-old Elijah Christopher DeVaughn. Known by his nickname, "E-Jayy," the black teen just received his acceptance letter to prestigious Harvard University. This might not seem like anything out of the ordinary, but E-Jayy's acceptance to the ivy league school has gone viral because of his rough upbringing.
Raised in Compton, CA for 13 years by his mother Sherree while his father was incarcerated, E-Jayy recalls difficult times for his mother and himself. "I remember watching my mom when we were at McDonald's, scrape change out of the thing when I was about six years old, to buy a chicken sandwich for me," he says in his interview with NBC Los Angeles. He then talks about how he would hear gunshots outside of his home, which pushed him to want a better life and a brighter future.
E-Jayy applied to Harvard as an early action candidate, and was surrounded by his friends and classmates when he learned he got accepted. The teen, who still lives in Compton, commutes 45 minutes to the city of Palos Verdes, where he attends the Chadwick School on a scholarship. Of his upbringing, he says, "I think that struggle - it incites a fire under you to want to work hard and to want to do more." He recently reunited with his father, and will be entering Harvard with no field of study yet declared as a major. However, he does have hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon one day.
His mother, who is a teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District, calls her son a "gift," and says he is "something to be reckoned with."
While attending Harvard is a dream come true for E-Jayy, attending the university does not come cheap. He will be receiving tuition, as well as room & board. However, his mother has set up a GoFundMe page to cover remaining expenses that are expected to be incurred.
We send a huge congratulations to E-Jayy, and wish him the best of luck as he begins this exciting new journey!
Watch E-Jayy's interview with NBC Los Angeles here: