Homeless Hoosiers graduate high school

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 14, 20143) — It’s a story of triumph in the face of adversity.

I’ve been to a total of 11 homes, 8 schools and 2 different states,” said Pike High School graduate, Syretha Shirley.

Syretha’s solo journey in life began at the age of 11 after her grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer’s could no longer care for her. After going from home to home she ended up in Indianapolis where her social worker at Pike High School connected her with Outreach, a nonprofit organization that helps homeless youth.

“Statistics indicate they would have dropped out of high school. They would not be graduating. They would over time become a statistic of criminal activity a burden on the system,” said Outreach CEO and founder, Eric Howard.

Syretha and 24 other homeless youth had a different plan for their life. Despite not having a stable place to call home they stayed in school and Outreach honored their hard work and perseverance.  The students received either their diploma or GED.

But through education this is the one thing that can never be taken away from them. It’s an accomplishment. It’s a catapult to go on to bigger, greater things in their life and in the world,” said Howard.

For 18 year-old Syretha the journey hasn’t been easy. She used writing to help her cope with the instability in her life. But her outlook on is simply moving.

“It’s a blessing and it’s something i had to get through just a storm I had to overcome and I’m happy about it with the grace of god and his help and other people as well like Outreach,” said Shirley.

Syretha is now living with a stable family. And the next phase of her life is just beginning. She’s headed to Indiana State University on a full ride scholarship. She plans to major in social work.

“I couldn’t be where I am today without the grace of God and the help of others and my inner circle. Just for giving me the courage just to see from someone else’s eyes that I can make it.”

Dr. Charles Ware, president of Crossroads Bible College delivered the keynote address at the graduation celebration. Outreach says they dished out $10,000 in scholarships this year, the highest amount since the nonprofit started.