Jemarley McFarlane had to overcome tough odds growing up in New York.  After his parents split apart, McFarlane found himself the product of a single parent home along with his sister. Now 22, the college senior is heading to South Korea for a yearlong teaching fellowship as a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant recipient.

DNAInfo reported on McFarlane’s remarkable journey from Jamaica, Queens to Colby College, a private liberal arts school in Maine. McFarlane said that watching his mother struggle early on was tough to bear, but credits her with his success.

“She sacrificed a lot for our family,” said McFarlane. “She was an honor student in high school when she came to the United States, but was unable to attend college. But she built different values in me and one of those values was gaining quality education.”

Jemarley’s mother, Yvonne raised him and sister Tiffany, now 16, by herself while working various odd jobs. A Jamaican immigrant and now a nursing assistant, Ms. McFarlane can rest easy knowing her efforts to provide for her children paid off.

I tried to put their education first, before me,” she said. “I’ve never had what I’m trying to do for them.”

McFarlane’s father left when he was eight years of age, and an attempt at reconciliation was fruitless. However, the American Studies major channeled his frustrations into his current triumphs. Yet in an amazing show of humility, he expressed a desire to see success for the woman who raised him as well. “I hope my mom will have the opportunity to go to college one day,” said Jemarley.

A fan of chess, basketball, and cable Show The Wire, McFarlane will head to South Korea to work as an English Teaching Assistant after graduating this July.

Photo: Jemarley McFarlane