Chinese-American Overcomes Child Abuse and Homelessness, Graduates Valedictorian

As reported for the Odyssey, found here:


Annually, over three million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than six million children. The US loses between four and seven children every day to child abuse. The U.S. has one of the worst records among industrialized nations, according to the ChildHelp website.

Victims of child abuse are present in almost every community,  including students at the University of Florida.

Yourui Ruan, 17,  graduated as the 2014 valedictorian of Wellington High School with a 5.2 GPA. He held positions as the vice president of Key Club as well as president of both the Chemistry Honor Society and Forensic Debate.

Soon he will be joining thousands of other students as a member of UF’s incoming freshman class. He plans to major in biochemistry.

Behind Ruan’s accomplishments, however, was the presence of several obstacles. The largest of which was his relationship with his parents.

“Life at home was lonely,” Ruan said. “I often stayed in my room and avoided any interaction with my parents. I was in a very unstable living situation.”

According to the GoFundMe page made in his honor, he was continually abused by his parents throughout his childhood.


“ I didn’t seek help since I was too afraid of the consequences,” Ruan said. “I was fearful that I would be sent into foster care.”

According the Child Advocacy Center in Gainesville, victims often fear the system put in place to assist them. Previously, children have been shifted among agencies, being asked to tell the story of their abuse repetitively.

Ruan was kicked out of his house two days after his eighteenth birthday without any of his belongings.

“ I was in a state of mental shock when it happened,” Ruan said. “I contacted friends immediately afterwards. They helped me through the ordeal by providing me with a home and supporting me.”

Ruan created the GoFundMe page in order to help him with the financial burden of attending the college.

“I was surprised by the support and sympathy that I received from the community,” he said. “I am currently in a much better place and enjoy life.”

The page raised $809 over 27 days.

“Yourui is really, really smart,” said Jessie Wang, a student at UF. “Very bright and very strong.  I grew up with him so he’s like a little brother to me. I want to see him flourish and succeed and hope that he’s able to find support and encouragement from UF.”

Each year, more than 2,000 children are confirmed as victims of child abuse in Alachua County alone.

Governor Rick Scott signed a bill on June 23, strengthening the child-welfare system and increasing protection for children who face neglect, in response to a large amount of child abuse-related deaths over the past few years.

The bill implicated a change in the process the Department of Children and Families employs to investigate child abuse-related cases. It established a “Critical Incident Rapid Response Team” to investigate the deaths of children who have history with the the child welfare system and appointed a new DCF Assistant Secretary for Child Welfare.

SB 1666, the bill, focuses on improving the safety plans for children in the system and provides some funding for at-risk families. It has been modified from previous regulations as it concludes that protecting a child from abuse trumps keeping a family together.

To support Yourui Ruan, please visit:


To support Yourui Ruan, please visit:

About Komal Junejo (30 Articles)
I am a 24-year-old Pakistani-American pursuing a career at the U.S. Department of State. I am currently studying for the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) in hopes of becoming a diplomat within the Public Diplomacy sector.

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