A high school senior who was homeless before she became a teen mom at the start of her freshman year overcame all the odds to be named the valedictorian of her senior class – receiving more than $610,000 in college scholarships.
When she was in grade school Trameka Pope, now 19, and her mother were destitute, and by the time she was in eighth grade, the student at Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago had learned she was pregnant. But after giving birth just three days before she started ninth grade, Trameka vowed to create a promising future for her and her daughter.
‘I didn’t give up. I pushed myself hard,’ she told Fox 32. ‘And my baby motivated me every day because I wanted to provide for her and I also didn’t want to be a statistic.’
One in four students in Chicago drop out of public high school, and that easily could have been Trameka’s future, but the teen mother always knew that she wanted something more for her and her daughter.
‘I always said that I wanted to make change and I wanted to be in the history books, and I started with myself,’ she explained.
The valedictorian, who has received a tremendous amount of support from her school district, has been accepted into nearly 30 universities.
While Chicago Public Schools (CPS) staff members took her on college tours, school counselors helped her apply for scholarships.
In addition to being her class valedictorian, Trameka is a cheerleader and a member of the National Honor Society. She has even started taking college prep classes at Kennedy-King College.
Trameka was also voted Prom Queen at the end-of-the-year dance, and proudly posted a picture of herself wearing her crown and sash on Facebook, commenting: ‘Look at the Prom Queen.’
Days later, she also shared an image of herself meeting Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education, writing alongside it: ‘It was a pleasure meeting and having a conversation with him today.’
And on top of all of her extracurricular activities and her duties as a mother, Trameka also works part-time at a local grocery store.
Trameka’s social worker Dawn Jackson told Fox 32 that she is an amazing example of someone who has successfully overcome adversity.
‘No matter what background you come from, it doesn’t matter if you have a child as a teen, no matter what people say about you, you still can, you can make it and you can become something,’ she noted.
Trameka is set to graduate with her class, and the valedictorian, who wants to get her PhD in social work, is scheduled to attend Western Illinois University in the fall.