GPHS Senior ‘Beats the Odds’, wins 1 of 4 competitive scholarships in the state

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A senior at Grants Pass High School has won a scholarship and beat the odds despite a difficult upbringing.

Senior Jared O’Neil has spent parts of his life moving around and living without a home of his own.

With his determination to excel, he put extra effort into his education.

He was recently awarded 1 of 4 ‘Beat the Odds’ scholarships in the state.

“He’s one of those kids like Ms. Napier says, he makes you want to come to work and do your job,” said high school counselor, Ben Coulter.

He has worked closely with O’Neil this year.

It was more than enough to inspire those around him.

O’Neil has had a rocky childhood, but it didn’t stop him from overcoming it and recently earning a competitive scholarship.

“They look for students that have had some story in their life, some struggles and things that were tough to get through, but somehow, they beat the odds,” said Coulter.

And beat the odds, O’Neil has. The scholarship is provided by the non-profit organization Stand for Children.

It will give O’Neil $4,000 each year for the next 4 years to further his higher education.

“When I filled in my paperwork for it and submitted the essay I wrote, they told me they were impressed with all the work I’ve done and congratulated me saying not everyone can do what I did,” said O’Neil.

He says he grew up moving around different states, staying in various shelters and friend’s houses with his mother and little sister.

He even worked a 40 hour a week job, while attending class at GPHS.

O’Neil says his motivation is simple to achieve a stable life, “I’ve always wanted a better life for myself, I never wanted to stay homeless and worry where my next meal was going to be, a roof over my head. I want a nice place for myself, money, a family.”

He was part of the high school’s AVID program or Advancement Via Individual Determination, which helps students who may not have the resources or confidence to go to college.

O’Neil advanced out of the program and took an A.P. course this year.

“The more he started believing in himself, the more he saw himself as a recipient of something like this,” Coulter said.

Though he has himself to credit for his work ethic, O’Neil says his teachers and counselors were available to help.

“It was definitely nice whenever I was stressed, I could go to my teachers, I know they were always there for me and I could count on them.”

O’Neil plans on attending Rogue Community College following graduation. After that, he plans to transfer to Western Oregon University to study physical therapy.

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Mariah Mills
NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
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