Teen overcomes homelessness, accepted to 17 colleges

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JERSEY CITY, NJ (WCBS/CNN) -

A New Jersey teenager says his determination helped him overcome homelessness and poverty to get accepted into at least 17 colleges.

At a young age, 17-year-old Dylan Chidick set his goals high and met them, despite countless heartaches. The teenager and his family moved from Trinidad when Chidick was just 7 years old, his younger twin brothers are living with serious heart conditions and the family has been in and out of homelessness.

"I have to have a lot of determination,” Chidick said. “There’s been a lot of people saying, ‘You’re not going to achieve this.’ Me getting these acceptance letters verifies what I have been saying: that I can do it and I will do it.”

Dylan Chidick, 17, says his mother, Khadine Phillip, inspired him and made him determined to succeed through her courage. (Source: Family photo/WCBS/CNN)

Now a senior at Henry Snyder High School in Jersey City, NJ, Chidick became class president and was inducted into the honor society.

With his acceptance into 17 colleges, he will be the first person in his family to receive a higher education.

Chidick says it was the courage of his single mother, Khadine Phillip, to ask for help from the non-profit Women Rising that makes him want to do better.

The non-profit helps women in need and their families. Phillip says the family has had a hard time financially and has been homeless.

"Putting herself out there like that, that basically made me more determined to never let us get back in that situation again,” Chidick said.

Among many other things, Women Rising put the family up in permanent supportive housing, giving Chidick a safe place to study and wait on his last acceptance letter.

Chidick hopes 18 will be his lucky number. That acceptance, if he receives it, would be from his top choice school, the College of New Jersey.

When the 17-year-old figures out where he wants to go, he says he wants to study political science.

Because of his family’s financial situation, all of Chidick’s application fees were waived.

Copyright 2019 WCBS, Family photos via CNN. All rights reserved.