From peer pressure to academic challenges, high school years are filled with all types of challenges.
But for some teens, the journey is tougher because they are facing life-altering problems like abuse, neglect, homelessness and more.
Pay It Forward scholarship recipient Hailey Smith found her strength in her struggle to fit in, anywhere.
“I decided to leave and he said, if you leave now, don’t come back,” she says.
18-year-old Hailey Smith was out of a place to call home and out of options.
She had been staying with an aunt and uncle. Before that, she lived with her grandparents who were taking care of her because her mother was unfit. it was more than she could handle.
Hailey says, not having a mother, and my grandparents passed away by the 6th grade, has been a real challenge in trying to fit in anywhere.
It would be the darkest time in her young life as she searched for somewhere to belong.
Hailey says, “Just finding my place, not being like everyone else, really just messed things up”
But through it all, she made the grades because she knew it would secure her future.
That’s when she made a very adult decision.
Looking back Hailey says,”It was really emotionally tough to jump back and forth so I went back to my aunt’s house. They took me back and I’m really grateful and will stay until I move into my dorm.”
She’s looking forward to college and lights up when she talks about her plans for the future.
With a smile on her face, Hailey says, “I just love children! I am going to become an elementary school teacher because I want to brighten the days of children and lead them in the right pathways. If they don’t have parents or if they only have one or they’re not getting what they need. I want to be there for them, more than any teacher I’ve had.
And with college paid for through the Glenn Armentor Pay It Forward Scholarship, her dream of becoming that teacher is within closer reach.
“He didn’t have to do this, he doesn’t have to. he does it because he wants to. He wants to change people’s lives and that’s just an amazing quality to have,” Hailey says.