Homeless teen graduates as valedictorian of high school class

A Clayton County teen credits hard work for becoming valedictorian of her graduating class.

Chelesa Fearce, a senior at Charles Drew High School, said she was homeless for most of her high school career, even living in her mother's car at times.

"I just told myself to keep working, because the future will not be like this anymore," Fearce said. "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 is. You eat what you can, when you can."

The family of five sometimes had an apartment, but those occasions were short-lived.

"Ended up back in another shelter because I got laid off from my job maybe about four or five times," Fearce's mother, Reenita Shephard said.

"I just did what I had to do," Fearce said.

Fearce achieved a 4.466 GPA and tested high enough to enroll in all college courses for her last two years of high school. When she enters Spelman in the fall, she will do so as a college junior.

Her SAT score of 1900 also made her a star student at Charles Drew.

Fearce's sister is graduating this year as salutatorian from George Washington Carver High School in Atlanta.

"I read to them a lot. Everything was a learning experience," Shephard said.

"Don't give up. Do what you have to do right now so that you can have the future that you want," Fearce said.