This homeless high schooler just graduated in 2 years with a full-ride scholarship.

One of D.C.’s 4,000 homeless youth just received an amazing opportunity.

Destyni Tyree was 16 and living in a homeless shelter when she was voted prom queen and graduated high school two years early.

All photos via Destyni Tyree, used with permission.

A few years before graduation, Destyni’s family fell on particularly hard times. Her mother lost her job, and not long after, they lost their apartment, too. They ended up at the D.C. General Homeless Center, a city-run shelter that houses about 270 families.


“It was tough,” said Destyni. “We didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Destyni dropped out of two different high schools before getting accepted to Roosevelt STAY, an alternative high school that aims to transform students' lives and change the trajectory of their future.

“If it wasn’t for the people at STAY, and my mom, I don’t think I would have made it through high school,” Destyni said.

Roosevelt STAY is one of eight alternative high schools in the District of Columbia. Throughout the U.S., there are over 10,000 of these schools designed to help at-risk students gain an education, and they can make a huge difference. Overall, alternative high schools have a graduation rate of 52% — 30 percentage points lower than the national average. But these students might not have graduated at all without the additional assistance alternative schools provide.

With the help of her mentors, Destyni set two big goals in the new program: graduating high school early and getting into college.

Getting to school was an hourlong commute for Destyni, but that didn’t slow her down at all. In addition to going to class every day — something new for her — she went to class on Saturdays, took online courses, and even spent her summers in the classroom.

“I just knew that whatever happened, I didn’t want to live my life in a shelter,” Destyni said.

But schoolwork wasn’t all she was doing. When she wasn’t in class, Destyni worked 25 hours a week at a local ice cream shop, was captain of the school’s cheer squad, and even found the time to go to prom — where her classmates nominated her to be their queen.

After prom came graduation, where she was awarded the Principal's Award for Academics and the Leadership Award.

Destyni also received another important award: a scholarship to Potomac State College of West Virginia University, where she will start classes at in the fall.

“My goal and career choice is to be a high school principal and to one day own my own charter school,” Destyni announced on her GoFundMe Page.

What does an award-winning high-school graduate who spent her teenage years in a shelter want to study in college?

Education, of course. Go, Destyni!

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Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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