Beating the Odds: Homeless teen becomes USF freshman and Student Government leader

Jadejha Edwards says mentor gave her hope

TAMPA, Fla. - "I love my life because it's my choices,” said 19-year-old Jadejha Edwards.

Edwards graduated high school with a GPA of 6.1. She was Jefferson High School’s student body President.

Now she's creating a life she loves.

"That hasn't always been able to be like true to me because my life was basically being written for me,” she said.

Her dorm room at USF is the first room she’s ever had to herself. At 16 years old she was homeless and sleeping in cars and on friends’ couches.

"Who are we gonna stay with? Where are we gonna sleep?” she said as she spoke about being homeless.

She’s come a long way from selling drugs in a Polk County alley out of a pencil case as a fifth grader.

"Born into my mother's gang life, I am selling drugs so we can eat,” said Edwards.

The odds were against Edwards.

Her mom’s in jail. Her dad, who suffered from PTSD, kicked her out at 16.

"They could never see the good in me, you know?" she explained.

At 19-years-old, Edwards never had someone in her life who would cry when she left until she met Kim Huey.

"I really admire her courageousness and her tenacity,” said Huey.

Huey became her mentor when she moved into ‘Starting Right Now’ in Tampa; which provides homeless youth with not just a place to live, but rules to live by.

"I'm in it for life so as long as you want this friendship, I'm here for you,” said Huey.

This summer her mentor moved her into her USF dorm room and cried.

"It used to be I was positive in the public but not so much like within myself. But since 'Starting Right Now,' I've learned to be positive both places,” said Edwards.

Edwards is still writing her future and wants to help others in South American with her degree.

"Nobody else is picking up that pen but me,okay,” she said.

And now she’s going places, great places, despite the odds.

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