“When I was preparing for my seventeenth birthday, neither of my parents had had a job in over 7 years… so we were extremely poor. My mother stopped taking us to the doctor, buying us clothes and toiletries, caring about our education, and our home. We had not had any running water, gas, air conditioning, or a clean living space in over 5 years. She was a severe alcoholic and abused her medication, and from time to time, strange people would sleep at our house. Often there was nothing to eat, you could only shower with a bucket, there were cockroaches, no privacy, and boarded up windows. I felt more as though I were jailed than living at home.

It has now been 10 months since that house was condemned, and my brother and I are happier than we have been in a very long time. We were removed from my mother’s care and are now wards of the state under the guardianship of my best friend’s parents. We are surrounded by people who care about us and our wellbeing.

I have maintained straight A’s all year long and am thinking optimistically about my future. I have been filling out scholarship applications and have already been accepted into the University of Arizona! I want to become a high school English teacher. I plan on taking the city bus to school every day until I save up enough money to buy a car. I am looking forward to taking this next step in my life more than anything!”

Jewel graduated from Desert View High School in the spring of 2017 with a 3.58 GPA and will begin attending the University of Arizona in the fall of 2018. She is the recipient of a Youth On Their Own scholarship to help her continue her studies.

Note: The above text was taken directly from Jewel’s scholarship essay.