Immigrant Teen Overcomes Homelessness And Gets Accepted To 17 Different Colleges

Published March 15, 2019

Dylan Chidick's family left Trinidad when he was 7. They've struggled through homelessness and prejudice, but Chidick will be the first in his family to attend college.

Dylan Chidick Profile

Jersey City Youth WorksDylan Chidick has a pretty good reason for that smile — 17, at the very least.

A New Jersey high school student who not only moved to the United States as a seven-year-old, but survived grave financial concerns, prejudice, and literal homelessness, has just been accepted into 17 of the 18 colleges he applied to.

Dylan Chidick and his family left Trinidad in search of a better life and if the studious young man’s track-record so far is any indication, they’ve certainly succeeded. While none of his relatives have ever attended college, Chidick currently has the pick of the litter.

According to the NBC News, the secret to the Henry Snyder High School senior’s success is rooted entirely in his belief that self-improvement and continuous learning is not only possible, but all we can really control.

“I believe that education is the key to basically the world,” he said. “Nobody could take away the knowledge that you have. They could take away your job or your money, but knowledge that you have in your brain, nobody could ever take that away.”

A CBS Nightly News segment on Chidick and his accomplishments.

If his family wasn’t proud already of his positions as Jersey City Youth Ambassador, vice president of his school’s National Honor Society, and class president — they certainly are now.

His single mother, Khadine Philip — who runs the nonprofit organization Women Rising which helps women and their families become financially self-sufficient — inspired Chidick in more ways than one.

The organization helped Chidick’s own family garner permanent housing, and it wasn’t merely his mother’s dedication to the cause that formed his ambitions, but also her own economic hardships.

“They don’t like to accept help,” said Chidick, in reference to his “very independent” family. “So, seeing them go through that experience made me change my ways and made me more determined to have my dreams and accept help from others too basically plan my future out correctly.”

Among Chidick’s acceptances are Albright College, New Jersey City University, and Swindon College. He’s still holding out for number one, however, and hopes to attend the College of New Jersey. As for his concentration, Chidick is interested in political science and is considering law as a profession.

In the end, the young man is determined to use his well-earned opportunities to forge a more stable and plentiful environment for the family that raised him. Besides, he has younger siblings to inspire.

“I’m used to being a role model already because I have two younger brothers,” he said. “I’ve always known I have someone looking up to me, but now there’s kids that I never met before saying you’re an inspiration.”

“It makes me feel great inside and it warms my heart to know there are other people out there having the same situation as me and using my story as an example to push through it.”

Next, take a look at over 50 vintage school photos of your favorite celebrities. Then, see what anti-immigrant hysteria looked like 100 years ago.

Marco Margaritoff
A former staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff holds dual Bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a Master's in journalism from New York University. He has published work at People, VICE, Complex, and serves as a staff reporter at HuffPost.
Leah Silverman
A former associate editor for All That's Interesting, Leah Silverman holds a Master's in Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Program and her work has appeared in Catapult, Town & Country, Women's Health, and Publishers Weekly.