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Chelsea Pearce is the type of girl who’s tragic, yet triumphant life is the thing tear-jerking movies are made of. Spending most of her teen years living in her mother’s car, Chelsea has managed to do the damn near impossible–graduate from high school…at the top of her class. That’s not all! The impressive Charles Drew High School senior will be going to college at Spelman University, where she will bypass freshman and sophomore year to start as a junior!

Fearce spent her last two high school years taking college courses and her 1900 SAT score made her an academic star at her school.

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How does one do this, especially under the circumstances of poverty Fearce faced? With a 4.466 GPA in her grasp, Fearce simply states, “I just did what I had to do.” Fearce is a part of a family of five and there were many times where they’d have a place to live, but those times were few and far between. Fearce’s mother, Reenita Shepherd says they “ended up back in another shelter because I got laid off from my job maybe about four or five times.”

Reenita may be facing poverty head on, but her children are over-achievers! Pearce’s sister is graduating from George Washington Carver High School as salutatorian. Shepherd attributes their academic achievements to the amount of reading she’d do for them growing up. As if this story couldn’t get any more heart-warming, Fearce offers some motivational words to those who come from her similar situation, “Don’t give up. Do what you have to do right now so that you can have the future that you want.”

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