Orange County homeless teen receives $40,000 scholarship to study drama

Local student proves importance of not giving up on dreams

By Carolina Cardona - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - At 19 years old, Savohn Thomas is a natural poet.  Not only does he have the art of writing poetry, he also shines on stage. 

It was the musical "In the Heights" that brought out in him a talent he always knew was there, but didn't have the confidence to show it. 

"The curtain went up -- boom, it was right there. My heart was racing, big adrenaline rush but as I got comfortable with it, like doing the scenes, doing the dances, nothing was like heart-wrenching, it was all like fun, pure fun," Thomas said. 

But it's not always been fun for Thomas. At the start of his senior year, he found himself homeless and moving from one place to another. At times, he even spent nights at a bus stop. 

"Honestly, I didn't want to feel like anybody's burden. It was a lot of times I wanted to give up, it was a lot of times I wanted to drop out," Thomas said.

He also had to walk almost 20 miles to make it to class at Cypress Creek High School.

"School was always a drive for me because it took time out of the times like being helpless, and it gave inspiration," Thomas recalled.

He said he found an escape from the environment he lived in while growing up in neighborhoods where he could've easily gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd. 

His passion for acting and poetry is now opening new doors for Thomas. On June 2, his theater class performed at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.  It was a night Thomas said he'll never forget. 

"It was a total surprise. I did not know anything that was going on that night that I got it," Thomas said after he became the first Applause Awards student recipient of the Pursuit of the Arts OCPS scholarship.

Thomas will soon be attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.

"This is everything to me. Even though I am scared, even though I am afraid because I've never been out of where I grew up, this means more to me because it gives me those dreams that I had as a kid," Thomas said.

While he waits for the day to leave his hometown, he's already planning how he'll be living his dream in New York. 

"I'm waiting to see Harlem, I'm waiting to see the Statue of Liberty, I wanna go to Middletown Square, eat a hot dog, I wanna do it all," Thomas said.

Thomas also said he's thankful for the help from the staff at Cypress Creek High school. In particular, Mrs. Montgomery who helped by sometimes providing a school bus to pick him up on days he was just too tired to walk those almost 20 miles. 

Savohn set up a Facebook page to share the scholarship information and his progress through the school program. 

To donate to the arts scholarship which benefits both Savohn and other students pursuing the arts, click here or visit FoundationforOCPS.org and search ‘Pursuit of the Arts’. 


You can also donate to help other children experiencing homelessness by clicking here. It's a general fund-- so donors just need to specify “Homeless Students Support Fund” in the dropdown list under options.

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