Teen Overcomes Massive Obstacles to Graduate High School

May 24, 2018 Last Updated: May 25, 2018

A Houston teenager is graduating from high school after facing major setbacks. Alexander Valdez lost both of his parents, lost his home in Hurricane Harvey and even became homeless—but he refused to quit.

Alexander will now be the first in his family to graduate from high school, and considering his life circumstances, that’s a big accomplishment.

“There were times when I had every reason to give up, and there were people who have told me I don’t even know how you’ve done it. I would have given up at this point,” said Valdez.

Alexander’s mother died of cancer last year, and his father passed when he was 9 years old. After his family home was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, none of his classmates at Austin High School knew that he was homeless.

He worked part-time and spent some time at his sister’s home and his aunt’s house, but some days Alexander was living out of a backpack. He would catch a Metro Bus to walk to school hours early to study and freshen up. He refused to drop out.

“When I came to brush my teeth at school, and I was looking at myself in the mirror, I was able to tell myself, you are going to get through this. Taking it one day at a time was the key,” said Valdez.

Alexander said he never wanted pity, realizing that as tough as his life was, others had it worse.

Now at 19 years old, he is ready to start a new chapter, after graduating next month he’ll be attending Albion College in Michigan. Thanks to grants, scholarships, and a ton of resilience.

“The journey that I took each and every day to get to school that was a reminder of, ‘This is where you are coming from, but it doesn’t mean that this is where it ends. This is not the end for you. You still have bigger things that are awaiting,'” said Valdez.