Last month, Rashema Melson lived in a single room with her mother and two of her six siblings at a Washington, D.C., homeless shelter. Now, she lives in a dorm room at Georgetown University.
While the very thought of a dorm may be enough to leave some feeling claustrophobic, Melson smiled about her new living situation.
“The dorm is great,” she shared. “I only have one roommate, it’s spacious. I have a great view of the trees and the sunlight, so I love it.”
The 18-year-old attended Anacostia High School in Southeast Washington, a part of the city notorious for crime and where gun violence has claimed the lives of students of the public school. With a course load and after-school schedule that included AP courses, four sports and book club, the straight-A student managed to become the valedictorian of her class.
Melson received admissions and scholarship offers from several colleges. She accepted an offer from Georgetown University, where she’ll attend on a full scholarship.
Despite her academic excellence, Melson says she felt constant pressure to get a job to help out her family, rather than pursue extracurriculars, like track and field. Leading up to graduation day where she would deliver the valedictory speech, Melson was overwhelmed with worry and guilt about leaving her family behind at the shelter as she moved out and on to pursue her dreams.