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Former homeless Milwaukee student now heading to UW Madison as a presidential scholar

Posted at 8:45 AM, May 25, 2019

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee teen once in and out of foster care is now a presidential scholar. Isaac Wells graduated with top honors and is heading to University of Wisconsin-Madison on nearly a full scholarship.

Friday night, Isaac was volunteering at St. Ben's in downtown Milwaukee to serve meals to the homeless and hungry.

"We used to have things like this, you know," said Wells.

Isaac and his family used to rely on homeless shelters for a place to sleep and eat.

"I used to hate coming to things like this honestly. As shameful as that might sound. I used to not like having our money. I used to hate having to come to things like this," said Wells.

As a young kid Isaac said he grew up on the north side around a lot of poverty and violence. His mom tried her best to shield him from it.

"She didn't like to go out into the world. She is a paranoid schizophrenic. So that is part of the reason why I was moved to foster care after that from ages four to eight I was in foster care," said Wells.

Things got rough again once Isaac left foster care. So he says school became his focus. Teachers and mentors helped along the way.

He graduated with top honors from Reagan High School Prep . Isaac was named a presidential scholar. He is just one of just 161 students in the entire country to receive the honor.

"I saw a future that I wanted and I didn't want to live in poverty anymore. I saw that as a reason to focus on school," said Wells.

Isaac now heads to UW Madison on a nearly full-ride scholarship. He plans to study both physics and engineering. He has a very lofty career goal to re-design jet engines.

"I think it would definitely be cool to make the engine materials lighter," said Wells. "So that we can hopefully get further and faster."