Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Fearce graduated from Charles Drew High School in Georgia as valedictorian, in spite of being homeless throughout much of her high-school career. Mother Reenita Shephard said Fearce is one of five children who, on four or five occasions, had to live in homeless shelters, hotels, or out of their car (when they had one) because she lost her job and the family was forced out of its apartment.
“We ended up back at another shelter cause I got laid off my job,” Shepard told WSB-TV.
Fearce said that when she lived in the homeless shelter, she would have to open her books in the dark and use the light on her cell phone for light. She said modestly: “You’re worried about your home life and then worried at school. Worry about being a little hungry sometimes, go hungry sometimes. Just do what you have to do, it makes you more humble.”
In spite of these tribulations, Fearce managed to achieve a 4.466 GPA, get a 1900 on her SATs, and most admirably, remained positive. She told
ABC News: "I would just pray. 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, so take your time, do what you got to do. Don’t give up. Do what you have to do right now so that you can have the future that you want. I just told myself to keep working, because the future will not be like this anymore."
Fearce's sister is also graduating as salutatorian from George Washington Carver High School this year. Fearce tested high enough in her courses that, in the fall, she will enter Spelman College as a sophomore. Fearce says she wants to become an oncologist.