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.
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!