From Homeless to Georgetown University, Teen Will Stop at Nothing to Succeed

Rashema Melson proves that very little can hinder a girl with a dream and a mind to see something through to realization. The 18-year-old high school senior from D.C. graduates this year with a 4.0 grade point average and a full scholarship to Georgetown University, where she aims to study biology and eventually earn her medical degree.


Remarkably, for the past two years, Melson has been living with her mom and brothers at a homeless shelter in the old D.C. General Hospital. Previously, they moved around for six years, sometimes living with other family members, and sometimes changing states.

Despite the transitional period, Melson kept her grades on top, and graduates this spring as valedictorian of her class at Anacostia High School.

"I just figured it was the only way to get out of my situation," the teen tells the Good News Blog about her high academic achievement. "Also, I do it for my family, just to help us out. It's the only way to keep going. I didn't want to stop and be stuck like that forever."

When she was just a baby, Melson's father was killed. She was always motivated to do well to honor his life. Melson is a voracious reader, and in addition to earning top scholarly marks, she plays on the volleyball, cross-country, indoor and outdoor track, and flag football teams.

The exceptional teen plans to study biology at Georgetown in the fall, and go into the field of forensic psychology. Despite the hardships she's faced, she remains focused and appreciative of the road that led her to this point.

"I was always a grateful child," Melson says. "Being homeless made me realize how much I want out of life… it made me work harder to reach my goals."

When she gets down, Melson turns to the support of her family and friends. Her goal has always been to go to college, and right now, she couldn't be more excited for the future.

"I'm happy to be at Georgetown, but I don't think it mattered where, I'm just happy to be going," she adds. "I've never had any doubt, I was always going to go to college."