HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Life hasn't been easy for 19-year-old Aja Lombardo.
The Bloomingdale High School senior is now on the road to success. But her journey to get to this place was anything but easy.
"There was a lot of abuse from my father when I was little and I was taken away from him," says Lombardo.
She spent her childhood bouncing from one foster home to another, never knowing how long she would stay at any of them. Through it all, Aja never lost faith or sight of her mission.
Joe Martino, her school counselor, marvels at her determination and focus.
"Aja is an example of a student, who just, like nothing can stop her," says Martino. "She's just overcome so many things, and I think the best is yet to come for her. I think of the stereotype 'the world is her oyster.' With the positive attitude she has, she'll be able to accomplish anything she wants to."
Aja has her eye sights set on college now.
"I got accepted into the University of Tampa, I think it was a week ago that I got that letter," says Lombardo. "Now, I'm just waiting for the rest of the colleges to come in and say, hey you're accepted."
She's not sure yet which college she'll attend, but she knows what she wants to study.
"Psychology. I think because of everything that I've been through, I want to help other kids like me," says Lombardo.
She admits she didn't get to this good place in her life by herself. She credits her now "forever family" for their love and support.
Maria, the woman she now calls Mom, is her biggest cheerleader.
"She's the one who kind of inspired me to love myself and shoot for the stars," says Lombardo. "She helped me a lot when I was in my little sad state and she helped me with school and my homework. She's the best mother that I could ask for. It makes me feel like I can do anything. being able to come this far, I can only imagine what else I can do."
We can only imagine what Aja will do with her oyster.