Homeless HS valedictorian earns full ride to Georgetown

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – For a Southeast DC teen, that high school cap and gown is capping off years of beating the odds.

Rashema Melson’s father was murdered when she was only 7 months old. Then two years ago, she and her mother and brothers moved into one room in a homeless shelter.

Life was tough, but Rashema didn’t let it get her down.

“Oh, 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.”

At Anacostia High School, where cops escort students through dangerous city streets every day, just graduating is impressive.

But Rashema is also inspiring her peers as the class valedictorian.

“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 told them in her graduation speech.

Thanks to that persistence, she has a full ride to prestigious Georgetown University.

“It’s just one step forward,” she said. “It’s not over yet.”

For Rashema Melson, who has her sights set on medical school, this is only the beginning.


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