GULFPORT, Fla. — One Tampa Bay area teen is graduating at the top of his class, with schools like Yale and Stanford competing for him, but his real accomplishment — overcoming being raised in a trailer full of drugs and crime.
Robert Hurley has a 4.6 GPA that got him awards in Tallahassee. He’s the valedictorian of his class at Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport. And he's been offered full rides to Yale, Stanford, Duke, Penn and more.
But Robert's life could’ve gone in a completely different direction.
“My mother was a drug dealer, so people would be in and out of the house,” said Hurley.
He was raised in a high drug and crime neighborhood. Robert says he would often have to step over the bodies of passed out drug users to get to school.
"When I was nine years old I was taken away from my mom," said Hurley.
He went to foster homes and ended up living in a children’s home until he was a sophomore in high school. That’s when he says he was forced to leave the home.
High school math teacher, Amy Krusemark heard that Robert was going to have to be placed in a different county if he couldn’t get help.
"I met with Robert in the hallway and said 'hey I have a background in fostering. If you’re interested I can talk to my family'," said Krusemark.
Robert has been a foster child of Amy and Alex Krusemark ever since.
He says they changed his life.
"I wanted to live differently than what my childhood was, and the only way to guarantee it was to pursue education," said Hurley.
He wants to encourage people who are thinking of fostering to get involved and help change the odds, like what was done for him.
"No matter what hardships you face in life, there will always be people to help you," said Hurley.
Robert says in college he plans to study chemistry and go into medicine.