After years of sometimes studying by the glow of a cell phone when lights were turned off at her shelter, 17-year-old Chelesa Fearce recently became the valedictorian of her Atlanta high school class.
Spending much of her high school life moving from homeless shelter to homeless shelter, Fearce finished at Charles Drew High School in Clayton County, Ga., with a 4.466 GPA and a 1900 on her SATs.
Her sister is graduating this year as salutatorian from her high school, George Washington Carver High School, in Atlanta.
“I just told myself to keep working, because the future will not be like this anymore,” Fearce told WSBTV.com. “You’re worried about your home life and then worried at school. 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.”
One of five children, her family only had apartments for short periods of time. Most of the time they lived in shelters or in the family’s car.
Halfway through high school she qualified for college-level courses and started earning college credits right away. She will begin school next year at Spelman College as a junior, where she plans to study biology as a pre-med student.
“Don’t give up. Do what you have to do right now so that you can have the future that you want,” Fearce said.