Even though Chelesa Fearce was homeless for most of her time in high school, the young dynamo will still manage to graduate with honors on Thursday as its star student and class valedictorian, reports WSBTV. And she’s headed to Spelman College to pursue her undergraduate degree.

During Fearce’s high school years, she and her family experienced multiple evictions because her mother, Reenita Shephard, had unsteady employment. 

Consequently, Fearce would often find herself having to read books in the dark with just her cell phone light illuminating the pages at local shelters. Fearce told WSB, “I just told myself to keep working, because the future will not be like this anymore,” she said. “You’re worried about your home life and then worried at school.”

But sometimes the shelters became too much, so the Clayton County, Ga., youth, her monther and her three siblings began living in their car.

Yet the experience didn’t stop Fearce, who also nailed her SATs with an impressive score of 1900 out of 2400, from achieving a GPA of 4.466. Her academic success empowered her to enroll in college courses for her last two years of high school, meaning when Fearce enters Spelman in the fall, she will begin as a college junior.

Fearce’s success is particularly significant when one considers that she maintained her stellar grades while dealing with hunger.

“[You] worry about being a little hungry sometimes, [so you] go hungry sometimes. You just have to deal with it. You eat what you can, when you can.”

And Fearce isn’t the only shining star in her family. Her sister is graduating as her high school’s salutatorian.

Meanwhile, the proud mom’s formula for her girl’s academic success is quite simple: books. Shephard says, “I read to them a lot, took them to the library. Everything was a learning experience.”

Fearce, in the meantime, has some pearls of wisdom to share for those peers who are in her shoes, “Don’t give up. Do what you have to do right now so that you can have the future that you want.”

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