- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2012

BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (AP) - The accolades continue for a homeless New York teen who’s a semifinalist in a prestigious national science contest.

Brentwood High School senior Samantha Garvey appeared Thursday as a guest on the “Ellen” talk show, where she received a $50,000 scholarship from AT&T to the college of her choice. She also was given a $5,000 J.C. Penney gift card and a $1,000 gift card for Whole Foods.

Last week, Garvey was named one of 300 semifinalists in the prestigious Intel science contest. The story of the aspiring marine biologist attracted national attention after it was reported that she and her family were forced to move to a homeless shelter on New Year’s Eve.

“You are an inspiration,” host Ellen DeGeneres told the 18-year-old senior who hopes to attend either Brown or Yale universities.

“You are an inspiration to me and I hope to anybody else out there watching that is having a hard time or even people who aren’t having a hard time and are complaining about petty things that are going on in their lives and they look at you and look at how you conduct yourself.”

After Garvey’s situation came to light last week, Suffolk County officials announced they had located a rent-subsidized home for the family to live; her parents will pay 30 percent of their monthly income in rent. The house is currently undergoing repairs and should be ready for the family to move in shortly, officials have said.

Garvey, who has been invited by a local congressman to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address next Tuesday, will learn the following day whether she will be one of 40 finalists in the prestigious science contest. She spent more than two years researching the effects of the Asian short crab on the mussel population in a salt marsh on Long Island, east of New York City.

The top prize in the science contest, which has been awarded to seven future Nobel Prize winners, is $100,000.

Garvey on Thursday was traveling from California, where the program was taped a day earlier, and not available to comment, a Brentwood school spokesman said.

She was presented with the scholarship check at the close of the program and appeared speechless by the presentation. She could be seen mouthing the words “That’s awesome,” as the credits rolled amid audience applause.

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Information from: WNBC-TV, http://www.wnbc.com