Destyni Tyree was voted prom queen by her peers and was captain of the cheerleading squad.
She completed high school in two years, earning a 4.0-grade point average and receiving a full-ride scholarship to Potomac State College of West Virginia University.
But behind the work ethic and will to be successful is a difficult upbringing, an adolescence marred by anger and fist fights, and the reality of living in claustrophobic conditions with 243 other families in one of the most notorious homeless shelters in Washington, D.C., ABC News reports.
“It’s OK,” Tyree said. “At first, I didn’t like it because I was used to my own space.”
Tyree’s mother lost her job a couple of years ago, and the family struggled to support itself in a city with skyrocketing rent and ever-increasing cost of living expenses. They made the difficult decision of moving into D.C. General, the city’s largest homeless shelter.
The stress of the environment bubbled over into Tyree’s academic life, forcing her to pull out of various schools.
“I had a lot of issues with classmates and teachers. It was just too much,” she said.
It wasn’t until she enrolled in Roosevelt S.T.A.Y. High School, an alternative program, that she felt motivated to succeed.
“As a student, she is a natural-born leader,” said Eugenia Young, principal of Roosevelt S.T.A.Y. High School.
Tyree managed her academic achievements in a tireless manner, taking on heavy loads of classes, including on Saturdays, and working 25 hours a week at an ice cream parlor. On top of the long days, she was involved in many school activities, launching the school’s first cheerleading team, organizing a senior trip to an amusement park and asking Young to host a senior prom.
“I just time managed,” Tyree said. “I just wake up and do what I gotta do.”
Tyree’s motivations in graduating early are grounded in her role as a big sister, saying she wants her little sister to always have someone to look up to. But — she’s also ready to spread her wings, she said.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 23, 2016