Amazed and truly inspired by this young leader, Rashema Melson who graduated from high school and valedictorian (4.0 GPA) of her class despite being homeless. More remarkably, Rashema did not hide her family’s situation from her friends and schoolmates but did not offer up the sharing. Rashema states, “ I don’t like sharing with kids because they start to pity you or they start to look at you in a different way.” No pity here-just resilience and tenacity to pursue a goal to become a Forensic Psychologist.
According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
-Number of homeless people in the US 1,750,000
-Number of Americans who now live in hunger or on the edge of hunger 31,000,000
-Number of families who are lodging nightly in city shelters in New York City 6,252
-Number of children in the U.S. who live below poverty level. 12,000,000
-Annual number of food stamp recipients who are children 9,300,000
-Average monthly income for a homeless individual $348
-Percent of homeless that do not get enough to eat daily 28 %
-Percent of homeless that have problems with alcohol, drug abuse, or mental illness 66 %
-Percent of homeless persons that have been sexually assaulted 7 %
-Percent of homeless that have been homeless for more than two (2) years 30 %
-Percent of homeless women claim to have been abused within the past year. 25 %
-Percent of homeless women who claim domestic abuse as the reason for their homelessness 22 %
-Percent of homeless population that are Veterans / Vets 40 %
-Percent of homeless persons who are employed 25 %
-Percent of cities surveyed-identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness 46 %
On Wednesday, Rashema Melson will graduate at the top of her class as the valedictorian of Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C. She's headed to Georgetown University this fall on a full scholarship. Even Melson isn't sure how she's managed to successfully juggle school (a 4.0 GPA), athletics (cross-country, track, volleyball) and homelessness. "I just know when I have a goal, I try not to let anything get in the way," she says.
Picture by Meredith Rizzo/NPR
She says it's the best advice she can give; it's what she tells herself. Rashema Melson lives in the D.C. General homeless shelter with her mother and two brothers. "Because you live in a shelter — that's not who you are, that's just where you reside at for the moment," she says.
All the best Rashema. The future for you looks very bright as your pursue a degree in Forensic Psychology!