Rashema Melson, 18, a D.C. high school student who spent the past two years living in a homeless shelter has graduated high school as a valedictorian and will head to Georgetown University with a full scholarship as reported by NBC Washington.

Rashema gave the valedictory speech at Anacostia High School’s commencement ceremony, telling her fellow classmates to never give up — because she didn’t.

rashema-melson_640x“Never be afraid to go after your dreams,” she told her classmates. “Regardless of the negative forecast that has been predicted upon us, beat the odds and let the sun shine,” said Rashema. She added, “Regardless of the negative forecast that has been predicted upon us, beat the odds and let the sun shine.” Rashema’s father was murdered before she was 1-year-old. Rashema had the unfortunate pleasure of moving from home to home, and from Maryland to Ohio to Florida to Tennessee. In spite of this as well as the hardship of living in a homeless shelter for two years, Rashema remained focused and undaunted. Which was the centerpiece of her address.

“You have options and you decide which one you want to take, and I took education because it takes you for the long run,” she said. “It’s not just a temporary thing or won’t just last for five years. Education will take me far.”

It’s always great to see people — especially young people — strive for greatness in spite of the obstacles and the unfortunate circumstance of being born into poverty. Hopefully her story serves as a source of inspiration for many, as I’m sure it already has.