You can’t choose how and where you were born, but you can choose how you want to live your life and what your future will be. This is exactly what Rashema Melson did. She overcame her tough upbringing. She is the first in her family to obtain a bachelor’s degree and graduated from Georgetown University despite being homeless.
Rashema, 23, received her bachelor’s degree in Justice and Peace studies from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C on Saturday.
The day was momentous for Rashema as life had not been easy for her growing up in the south of Washington, D.C.
I really hope this inspires anyone who is in need of hope and self-love. It captures me being in fear, quitting & looking for an escape, but nonetheless also how I got back up & decided to face my fears and conquer any challenge that stood in my way.
— Rashema Melson (@Shema22) May 18, 2019
“My life has always been rough. Homeless or not, in southeast, it’s rough regardless, the circumstances are just rough due to the fact that we don’t have the tools or resources as everyone else,” Rashema told ABC News.
Rashema was born into an underprivileged family without a permanent home. She’s lived in shelters and public housing. She also told WUSA that she and her family once lived in an abandoned house.
“We’ve lived in an abandoned home before, which was way worse, so I appreciate the shelter because it was, you know, a place to live for the moment,” she said.
Rashema has had to attend three different high schools, meaning she’s never had a stable friendship with any of her classmates.
Despite everything she’s been through, Rashema was the top of her class at Anacostia High School where she was the valedictorian. And that’s when she received a full scholarship to Georgetown University.
Former Homeless Student Graduates from Georgetown University: 'It's an Unbelievable Feeling' https://t.co/1uJvhGbeDU
Thank you veryyy much People Magazine!!!
— Rashema Melson (@Shema22) May 17, 2019
Before going to Georgetown University, her living condition was very unpleasant. Being homeless meant that Rashema had to share a cot with her siblings where she often woke up because of bed bug bites. She took cold showers as there was no hot water supply. The 23-year-old had to eat from cans as her family couldn’t afford plates.
Being homeless is not the only challenge she’s had to face. “People really emphasize a lot on the homelessness because that’s what grabbed their attention but there’s a lot that I don’t share,” Rashema told ABC News.
Apart from being homeless, she also suffered from bulimia, self-harm and was a victim of sexual assault.
Remember @AnacostiaHigh Valedictorian Rashema Melson?
The 23-year-old who was once living in a local homeless shelter will soon graduate from Georgetown University. Her success story tonight @ABC7News at 5. @Shema22 @GeorgetownUniv #education #dmv pic.twitter.com/qhnKxqO4W8
— Kellye Lynn (@ABC7Kellye) May 15, 2019
She added, “It’s just so much and I think that’s what people don’t understand when you are going through circumstances it’s just not one thing there is a lot going on.”
Her education, reading books and watching movies helped Rashema to stay positive and hopeful.
Once homeless, DC native who earned full ride to Georgetown University prepares for graduation https://t.co/pT7fU3vGTU
— FOX 5 DC (@fox5dc) May 18, 2019
“Reading books gave me an insight into a world that I have never ever seen in my life. People really get rich and buy a house? People really get their dream jobs? It was like a fantasy land to me,” she said.
Rashema’s friend, Wesley Bowers, is inspired and motivated by everything she’s been through.
He said, “She doesn’t ask anyone for anything, she doesn’t ask for much but she is always the first person to give.
“She is just a very caring person and a good friend so finding out her story made her even better in my eyes in a sense.”
“I am extremely lucky to have a friend like her, I tell her that all the time,” he added.
“I know that if anything happens to me or my family, she will drop whatever she is doing, she always put other people first.”
Rashema’s kindness, hopefulness and perseverance are good examples of people who escape adversity. She believes that things do get better eventually and seizes every opportunity.
“Just know that your blessing is there waiting for you, you just have to go get it,” she said.
We are inspired and touched by Rashema’s story and we wish her all the best in her future. We hope Rashema’s story has inspired all of you to never give up no matter how difficult your life is.
Trust us, one day, it will be a better day.
Credits: ABC News