Her student was kicked out for being gay. This teacher made his college dreams come true.

Seth Owen's dream was to go to college. But after his parents kicked him out for being gay, it felt like he'd never achieve it.

The 18-year-old, who was valedictorian of his graduating class, was all set for the future. With a GPA of 4.16 and an acceptance to his first-choice college — Georgetown — he thought his life had been made.

But Owen's parents — strict Southern Baptists — made him leave home when he refused to go to church or continue any type of conversion treatment. Without his parents' help, he wouldn't be able to afford to go to school.


“I started to cry, because I realized there was no way that I could go to college,” Owen told NBC. “Georgetown was my only option, because I had already denied my other acceptances.”

Seth Owen. Photo via GoFundMe.

It's not uncommon for parents to force their children to leave home when they've come out as gay. Up to 40% of homeless youth in America identify as members of the LGBT+ community. Owen spent his nights on friends' couches, he told NBC. He had no idea what he was going to do next.

But, Jane Martin, Owen's teacher and mentor, knew she had to step in to help.

Knowing that Owen was not the type of person to ask for help, Martin rallied students and faculty together to see what they could do. Martin posted a GoFundMe with the goal of raising $22,000 — enough to fund Owen's first year at Georgetown.

"I taught Seth biology and mentored him throughout his high school years. He was the ring bearer in my wedding. Last month, I watched him walk across the stage in a Jacksonville arena weighted down by more cords and medals to count. I’m writing this community for help," she wrote on GoFundMe.

In six weeks, the community had raised more than $82,000 for Owen. He's still hoping that Georgetown will adjust his financial package and, if they do, he and Martin plan to use the money to create a fund for kids going through the same situation.

Seth Owen (left) , Jane Martin (center) and friends. Photo via GoFundMe.

Martin's act of kindness is the support all students — queer or not — deserve to help them achieve their dreams and express self-love.

“It’s difficult to be who you genuinely are when you have all this pressure around you from all these different people in your life,” Owen said. “But if you become comfortable with who you are, you're that much more equipped to face these difficult times.”

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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