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Pregnant and homeless in eighth grade, teen defies odds and becomes high school valedictorian

Tameka Pope

Trameka Pope is just graduating high school, but the valedictorian already has a remarkable life story to share.

As an eighth grader, Pope was facing an uphill battle: she was homeless and pregnant. Many people would say she was too young and that she had too much ahead of her— that having a baby before she even started high school would ruin her future.

Pope knew that none of that was true.

“I was told that God don’t make mistakes and he wouldn’t give anyone a child who wasn’t ready for one,” Pope told FOX 32 News in Chicago.

Now, Pope is more than a teenage mom graduating high school at the top of her class. She currently takes college prep courses at Kenney-King College before even heading to Phillips High School for the day, where she takes four classes, including AP calculus. She’s also a cheerleader and a member of the National Honor Society.

“I always said that I wanted to make change, and I wanted to be in the history books, and I started with myself,” she told FOX 32. “I didn’t give up. I pushed myself hard. And my baby motivated me every day because I wanted to provide for her, and I also didn’t want to be a statistic.”

Thanks to her hard work and help from those around her, Pope has received over $600,000 in scholarships. Her school counselors helped her apply to colleges. School staff members accompanied her to college tours. And her social worker, Dawn Jackson, taught her how to be a good mother.

“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 can make it.  And you can become something,” Jackson told FOX.

In the fall, Pope will attend Western Illinois University, where she will continue to prove that teen moms can do great things. Having a baby doesn’t mean your life is over— not even close.

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