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New Jersey Teen Triumphs Over Homelessness, Gets Accepted Into 17 Colleges

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey teenager is proving hard work and determination can go a long way.

That proof is also seen in the amount of college acceptance letters he's received.

Laid out in front of 17-year-old Dylan Chidick are not just pamphlets of college options, they're acceptance letters - 17 college acceptance letters.

"NJCU, Ramapo, Albright," Chidick said, listing off the schools.

Dylan Chidick's college acceptance letter. (Credit: CBS2)

"The dream I want to achieve, I have to have a lot of determination."

After moving from Trinidad at just seven years old and becoming a citizen, Dylan and his family went through countless heartaches.

His younger twin brothers are living with serious heart conditions and his family has been in and out of homelessness.

Dylan Chidick's younger brothers after heart surgery. (Credit: CBS2)

"My family went through a lot and there has been a lot of people saying, 'you can't do that,' or 'you're not going to achieve this,' and me - getting these acceptances - kind of verifies what I have been saying. I can do it and I will do it," the teen explained.

The Jersey City student set his goals high and met them; becoming the senior class president at Henry Snyder High School and being inducted into the honor society.

Now, he is looking to become the first in his family to go to college.

It was his single mother's courage to ask for help from the non-profit "Women Rising" that Dylan says makes him want to do better.

"It has been hard financially, we have been homeless," the teen's mother, Khadine Phillip said.

"Making herself vulnerable and putting herself out there, that made me determined to never let us get back in that situation again," Dylan added.

Dylan Chidick and his mother (Credit: CBS2)

"She is a great example in doing everything necessary to help her children," Roseann Mazzeo, executive director for Women Rising said.

Among many things, the center has put them up in permanent supportive housing. Giving Dylan a safe place to study and wait on his last acceptance letter.

"The College of New Jersey. I haven't heard back yet, but that is my top school right now," the honor student revealed.

Dylan is hoping 18 will be his lucky number and bring him 18 choices for a bright future.

When he figures out where he wants to go, Chidick says he wants to study political science. Given his financial situation, the costs for all the college applications were waived.

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