Twenty-year-old Chicago man to pursue Ph.D. at Harvard

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Octavious Talbot spent most of his teenage years in an overcrowded Southeast Chicago home, he said, but his life drastically changed when he was offered a scholarship to Morehouse College. Now the graduate, who turned 20 in March, will be a full-time Harvard University student in the fall, where he plans to pursue his Ph.D. in Biostatistics.

His mother, Briggitte Lovemore, said that life hasn’t always been easy for the family, especially after she lost her job a few years ago.

Talbot remembers how some days he couldn’t get to his private Catholic school – Marian Catholic High School – because they couldn’t afford the gas from the city to the south suburbs. He would take zeros for assignments he could have gotten an A or B on, he said. Once the family’s car was taken away, Talbot said things went from bad to worse.

“I had to try to find a ride to school and then getting back was a struggle,” Talbot said. “I would be up there for 10 hours watching YouTube videos and doing my homework until I finally found a ride.”

Eventually the high school’s tuition was just too much, Lovemore said, so she had to pull Talbot, her youngest of seven children, out of the school and homeschool him during his last year. At 16, he started taking courses at a local community college, while doing schoolwork his mother gave him. Talbot said he had planned to return to his junior college, Joliet Junior College, but that changed when he applied to Morehouse College and was accepted. He was offered a scholarship that covered his tuition. Talbot said Morehouse’s legacy and scholarship was what helped him decide to go.

Talbot received his B.S. in Mathematics Sunday, May 18, where his cumulative GPA was a 3.87. Now it’s time to start thinking about the Ivy League life and how he will transition, said Talbot, who was encouraged to apply to Harvard through his math department at Morehouse and the John H. Hopps Scholars Program. Talbot said Harvard wasn’t a university he had thought about attending.

“It’ll definitely be a culture shock, but I’m excited about learning how to apply my skills in the real world,” he said.

His mother said she never let any roadblocks stop her from instilling the importance of education in all of her children.

“It’s all about education,” Lovemore said. “My main role in raising my children was the educational portion of it.”

Talbot has also worked on research projects through Arizona State University and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. His career aspiration is to work in public health, and use statistics, applying it to “real world situations,” he said.

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