Homeless teenager is high school valedictorian - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Homeless teenager is high school valedictorian

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Rashema Melson is a homeless teenager who graduated as valedictorian, and will attend Georgetown University in the fall with a full scholarship. (Source: WUSA/CNN) Rashema Melson is a homeless teenager who graduated as valedictorian, and will attend Georgetown University in the fall with a full scholarship. (Source: WUSA/CNN)

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA/CNN) - A homeless Washington, DC high school student overcame incredible odds to graduate at the top of her class.

Now she has a full scholarship to Georgetown University.

At Anacostia High School, police officers have to escort students' home at the end of each day to protect them against neighborhood gang violence.

Those who graduated are the ones who made it through.

Rashema Melson's story might be the most improbable of all.

"I feel better. I feel I did it, you know. I finally got the diploma in my hands," she said.

Her father was killed when she was 7 months old, and she spent her childhood bouncing around from apartment to apartment.

For the last two years, she has lived with her mother and two brothers in a single room at the D.C. General Homeless Shelter.

Melson graduated as her class valedictorian.

"That's an every month thing - another thing, challenge, another battle, another obstacle in your way and then you just jump over it or you go right through it. The only way through the storm, you go right through it," Melson said.

But she admits, with family hardships, rough neighborhoods, trying to do homework in a homeless shelter, there were plenty of moments of doubt

"I started to give up, but then God gave me a sign that He wasn't putting me through this to punish me but to show others how to be resilient and persistent in the goals of life," she said during her graduation speech.

"Throughout my journey here I have learned that time does not wait, pity or adjust for or to anyone and life is not fair. Life is not fair."

Her hardships helped shape her.

"It just helped strengthen me and to do anything that I needed to do and wanted to do," she said.

But if Melson and her fellow graduates prove anything, it's that improbable doesn't make it impossible.

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