Yale Student Who Grew Up Homeless Reveals How She Achieved Goals: 'Keep Your Eyes on the Prize'

Fearce was determined to be a good role model for her younger siblings. She found inspiration in her late grandmother, struggling with kidney failure and diabetes, who gave Fearce emotional support, and her chemistry teacher.

“In high school, it was the first time I had seen a black woman doing science,” Fearce says. “Before I would never had thought I could do science. I knew I was good at it, but at that moment I realized I could actually do it.”

In her junior and senior year, Fearce took both high school and college courses, missing out on the free meals she depended on so she could get to her college classes. She not only graduated as valedictorian of her 2013 class with a 4.5 grade average, but was also given a full-ride scholarship — including a meal plan — to Spelman College in Atlanta.

After graduation, she worked full time for two years at the National Institutes for Health in Bethesda, Maryland, doing research on drugs for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

She entered Yale last fall and has set a course to earn both a PhD and medical degree to become a psychiatrist.

“Psychiatry is something that touches everybody,” Fearce says. “People will be traumatized [after the pandemic], especially those working on the front lines, so they are going to need help."

As for her siblings, older sister Chelsea Shelton, 25, earned a degree in criminology after receiving a full college scholarship and now works at the state Department of Juvenile Justice.

Younger siblings Nicholas, 12, and Cayleigh, 11, are currently living with their mom, who is in remission and working, in Atlanta.

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