BREVARD COUNTY — Rising senior Malachi Hobbs is a straight-A Cambridge program student at Rockledge High School. He has started his own cleaning business, attended Disney Dreamer’s Academy with Steve Harvey, and is currently a dual enrolled student at Eastern Florida State College.
One look at Malachi, and no one would have known that this intelligent, kind and accomplished 17-year-old did it all when he and his family didn’t have a roof above their heads to call their own.
“Knowing how people are normally at Malachi’s age and how easy it is to be distracted, I’m just in awe of what he’s done,” said Tish Strothers, Malachi's mother. “Every day he never ceases to amaze me.”
Before entering high school, Malachi and his family found themselves homeless, sleeping on friend’s couches or in the car while still attending school in Palm Beach County for about two years.
“We did what we had to do every single day; it was like, I don’t know what’s going to happen today, but we have to try,” Ms. Strothers said. “It’s the people that you least expect that step in and say, ‘You know what, I’m going to help you.’
“That took a relief off because I was trying to keep my kids together,” she continued. “As a mother, my priorities were the kids first. I had to hold it together just to make sure they were okay.”
When housing became available, Ms. Strothers and her two sons moved to Brevard County, despite not having any connections or jobs.
Although Ms. Strothers had a steady job in a clerical position, the pay wasn’t enough to keep their home. What made the move hardest was leaving behind her family for a place she hadn’t even heard of.
“I was extremely proud of my kids for holding it together,” Ms. Strothers said. “Most kids would be like, ‘Well mom, it’s not fair. You work and you do everything right. Why us? We’re good people.’ Before, I thought homeless people were drug addicts and prostitutes, someone who had mismanaged money. At that time it was very humbling to learn that anyone could become homeless.”
During this time, Ms. Strothers said she began to teach Malachi about different aspects of business, such as being an owner, investor or employee.
Malachi soon after formed “Malachi’s Miraculous Mirrors,” which also turned into a cleaning business. One of his main motivations, Malachi said, is being able to earn enough to go on his trip to Cambridge this summer.
“My mom inspires me to work hard and I’ve always taken after her in spirit,” Malachi said.
Last year, Malachi earned a spot in the Disney Dreamer’s Academy, which took place over three days in Orlando.
“They provide you with information, tools and resources to be successful,” Malachi said. “It was a wonderful experience. I got to meet other successful people and learned how they got to where they are. Steve Harvey’s a fun guy.”
This summer, Malachi will be furthering his own dreams by traveling out of state and out of the country for the first time in his life.
The first stop will be Oshkosh, Wisconsin for two weeks at the EAA Air Academy, where Malachi has earned a scholarship to participate in this hands-on flight school.
“I’m looking forward to learning more about flying,” Malachi said. “I think flying is a really interesting thing that humans have been able to pull off.”
The second trip involves a little more relaxation as Malachi embarks on a tour of the University of Cambridge, England with Rockledge High School students.
With a future wide open, Malachi dreams of being a surgeon, commercial pilot, and even a writer.
“I’d like to be a surgeon, but flying would be just in case,” Malachi said. “It’s always nice to have multiple options. I like helping people, and I feel like one of the direct ways to help is to save lives by being a doctor. I’m a writer though, and I hope to be published one day.”