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This Chicago high school valedictorian really beat the odds stacked against her.
Trameka Pope of Wendell Phillips Academy High School in the Bronzeville area overcame homelessness and prospered at her school despite giving birth to her daughter just days before her first day of freshman classes, WFLD-TV reported.
The cheerleader and National Honor Society member works at a local supermarket and takes courses at Kennedy-King College, but she’ll be attending Western Illinois University in Macomb on a scholarship next fall, according to the TV station.
The bright young woman told WFLD that one of her teachers once told her she was a waste of time and she wouldn’t amount to anything. But Pope wasn’t going to let that or her rough circumstances in an area the latest census data shows is marked by 25% unemployment stop her, she said.
“I didn’t give up,” Pope said. “I pushed myself hard. And my baby motivated me every day because I wanted to provide for her and I also didn’t want to be a statistic.”
She certainly proved that the figures surrounding students like her don’t always hold true. Just 40% of teen mothers graduate high school and about one third of female teens who drop out of school reference pregnancy or parenthood as one of the main reasons for doing so, according to a 2012 report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and America’s Promise Alliance.