Stepping out from some difficult circumstances, Kiara never let homelessness stop her from achieving her goals.
Four years ago, Kiara was living in a one-bedroom apartment with 16 people, at times with no electricity or running water. Her family eventually moved into a shelter, and they later joined the Community of Hope's permament supportive housing program in 2013.
Despite these challenges, Kiara has always been a driven, accomplished high school student, and her hard work just paid off. On June 17, she proudly accepted her diploma from Calvin Coolidge Senior High School, where she graduated ninth in her class. And what’s next? This first-generation high school graduate was accepted into 16 colleges, and she plans to start as a freshman at Delaware State University this fall! Kiara is the first in her large family to head to college.
As one of 11 siblings, Kiara has not always had it easy. With a full and busy household, she had to get creative to find a quiet place to study. Sometimes, she would stay late after basketball, volleyball, or cheerleading practice – hiding out in the gym or dance studio until 9 pm to get her homework done.
Even while juggling schoolwork and sports, Kiara found time to help around the house and assist her younger siblings with their homework. Kiara’s mother, Ms. Williams, says that Kiara always steps up without even being asked, “If one of the kids needs help with their homework, she is always volunteering.”
Kiara sometimes struggled to keep herself motivated and even considered dropping out of school at one point. In those moments, her mother kept her going. "No matter what my family went through,” Kiara says, “she would just push me and push me and push me. There were plenty of times I wanted to say, ‘I’m done,’ but she kept encouraging me."
Kiara says she wouldn’t be where she is today without Community of Hope: “They helped my family out so much with a place to live. Basically, the major things I needed help with, they were always right there.” Kiara gives much credit to her youth specialist, Roderic Irby, who encouraged her throughout her senior year.
“I’m so proud of her,” says Roderic. “She’s always had a great way of taking advice and just running with it. She’s an amazing kid.”
This fall, Kiara is off to Delaware State University, where she will major in Nursing and minor in Biology. After college, Kiara hopes to continue her education and become a pediatrician.
Congratulations, Kiara. You’ve earned every ounce of your success and we are so proud of you!