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Chelesa Fearce: Homeless Girl Graduates as High School Valedictorian

A Georgia teenager who was homeless for most of her time at school has been named valedictorian of her graduating class, an honor she says she achieved through hard work.

 “I just told myself to keep working, because the future will not be like this anymore,” said Chelesa Fearce of Clayton County.

The 17-year-old, who had to live in her mother’s car sometimes, did so well at Charles Drew High School that she will start college as a junior in the fall. 

“I’d worry about being a little hungry sometimes, go hungry sometimes. You just have to deal with it. You eat what you can, when you can,” the teenager, who earned a 4.466 GPA, told WSBTV.

Fearce’s grades were good enough for her to enroll in advanced placement courses for her last two years of high school. She also achieved a SAT score of 1900.

She is due to attend Spelman College in Atlanta in the fall.

The schoolgirl’s mother, Reenita Shephard, said that although the family of five sometimes had an apartment to live in, it was only ever for a short time.

“We ended up back in another shelter because I got laid off from my job maybe about four or five times,” she said.

The family regularly had to move apartments, or live in shelters, hotels or the family car, while they still had one.

“My mom, whenever we’re in that situation, she always finds a way out of it. So I would just tell myself,’ tomorrow it will not be like this,'” Fearce said.

Shephard refused to let their precarious home situation ruin her children’s chances, adding: “I read to them a lot. Everything was a learning experience.”

Her parenting skills paid off. In addition to Fearce becoming valedictorian and a star student at her high school, her sister Chelsea Shelton is due to graduate as salutatorian from Atlanta’s George Washington Carver High School.

Charles Drew High School is also proud of Fearce’s achievements, and the teenager’s positive attitude.

“She has overcome some obstacles,” school counselor Razelda Killen said. “She has been homeless, but in spite of those obstacles she has still done an outstanding job academically, socially.”

The teenager however, says her success despite all odds has made her humble.

“I’m so happy that I got through all of this and that I finally have gotten to this point,” she told ABC News. “All the studying I’ve done … I was studying science, math, everything. I’m very proud to come this far.”

Even when the family lived in homeless shelters, Fearce’s resolve and determination never faltered.

“I just had to open my book in the dark and just use my cell phone,” she told WSBTV.

When Fearce gave her valedictorian speech on Thursday afternoon she hoped to be able to inspire her fellow classmates and draw comparisons to the school mascots, the Titans.

“I feel like the Titans are very influential. They’re strong, and they need to be strong despite their hardships,” she said.

Despite her difficult home life, Fearce, who wants to become an oncologist, knows that hard work and determination can change your life.

“Don’t give up,” the teenager said. “Do what you have to do right now so that you can have the future that you want.”

Source: Daily Mail

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