Lexus Simmons loves her mother but is not able to see her much. At age 17, Simmons is the youngest of 10 half-, step- and full siblings and has largely been raised by her father.
Without a mother figure in her life, the North Central High School senior didn’t learn how to do “girly things” – as she described them – and sometimes was made fun of in school. But with the help of some important mentors along the way, she broke out and found a way to achieve. She considers academics her major achievement.
Even though she has faced homelessness and times when the family didn’t have enough food, she will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA and has earned a scholarship to Eastern Washington University, where she plans to study social work.
“All the social workers in my life have helped me, and I want to do the same,” she said.
She remembers two mentors especially – Emily Grant, a Whitworth University student with Mentoring Children of Promise, who helped her get clothes, took her out for meals, helped with writing essays and figuring out applications for schools.
“She was way past a mother figure and has always been there for me,” Simmons said.
The other mentor was Julie Pearson, through NC’s College Success Foundation, who not only helped her prepare for college but helped boost her self-esteem.
“For example, I was having trouble with my hair, and she can totally do hair and helped me with my corn rows,” she said.
When she was first entering NC, her father had lost his job and because of his age and medical issues was not able to find work. They were evicted from their home, but one of Simmons’ older sisters took them in. They are all living on Supplemental Security Income.
At NC, Simmons is drill team captain and wants to keep dance part of her life. When the team’s coach left the team at the beginning of the school year, Simmons sent an email to a local TV station to see if they could help find a new one for them. A story was aired and a coach was found, a woman already working at NC.
Other than that, Simmons said, it’s all about her studies. “I’m good at math, and I guess I’m kind of boring.”
She says she knows too well what it’s like to ask for food, to ask for clothing, to ask for a place to live.
“I love my family, but I see all that they struggle with, and I hope to have less stress and more stability. This is motivating for me.”
Lyndsey Sabo, school counselor at NC, added: “Lexus is the definition of resilience. When bad things happen, she comes back stronger and redefines her focus. It has been exciting for all of us to walk through this journey with her and we are so encouraged by the goodness in her.”
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