Where most students can be assured of at least having a roof over their head and food on the table to sustain them as they meet academic and social challenges, Fearce had been deprived of these necessities.
As she faced her challenges of getting a good education and getting into college, there was one overriding challenge her family was meeting each day: homelessness.
Former Tri-Cities High School principal and now a senior professor at Cambridge College, Herschel Robinson, Ph.D., heard of Fearce’s story through a television report and, as he put it, “her situation touched our hearts.”
Upon hearing her story, Robinson, who is in his 41st year as an educator, contacted Fearce’s counselor at Drew and asked if Fearce would relate her story to the Airport Rotary Club, and she jumped at the chance.
In her address to the Rotarians, Fearce said when she entered the sixth grade, her family was living in transitional homes.
“Then my mother was laid off from her job and we were in and out of family shelters and even had to sleep in our car at times,” she said.
However, Fearce turned aside these challenges, which would likely have derailed the educational dreams of many other students, and concentrated on her studies, sometimes under very adverse, near impossible conditions.
Through determination and the ability to work through hard times, she graduated this year as Drew’s valedictorian.
According to Robinson, her address to the Airport Rotary Club so touched their members that the club is going to develop an outreach ministry for young ladies who, as students, may be facing similar circumstances as Fearce.
In addition, the Robinson family, out of their own pocket, presented Chelesa with $1,000 check for her education-related expenses as Fearce prepares to attend Spellman College.
In fact, she has earned so many credits from dual enrollment classes she has taken at Clayton State University that she enters Spellman as a junior.
“Chelesa has not let her living conditions dictate her academic success or affect her future career,” Robinson said.
“Chelesa has allowed her mind to go beyond her environment and her living conditions, and she is preparing for a bright future,” Robinson added, calling his actions a “God-given thing