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A Formerly Homeless Student’s Remarkable Education Journey

April 24, 2014
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A Formerly Homeless Student’s Remarkable Education Journey
Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez, 5th from left, at the Glamour And L'Oreal Paris 2014 Top Ten College Women Celebration. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Learn how Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez of Reno, Nevada overcame incredible odds to be where she is today.

When Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez was a junior at Canyon Springs High School in Nevada, there were times when she didn’t know where she was going to sleep at night.

“For three months, we had to look for somewhere to eat; we had to look for somewhere to sleep,” Ivon told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “My mom would go to Catholic Charities for food.” She also described sleeping on couches and cars of friends and strangers alike.

As the newspaper reports, despite not having a roof over her head, she excelled in school and became the top student in her class, graduating as valedictorian in 2011.

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The now 20-year-old is a double major in history and philosophy at the University of Nevada. And that’s not all she’s achieved in so little time—she’s also just won the highly competitive and prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship that’s worth $30,000.

She’s one of 60 students in the country who received this federal scholarship this year. Former notable winners include Janet Napolitano, George Stephanopoulos and Bill de Blasio. The money will go towards an education in law, social work, education, international affairs or public administration, health or policy, the Associated Press writes.

“Ivon’s story of accomplishment and community service is all the more inspiring because of her background,” UNR spokeswoman Jane Tors told the Review-Journal.

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To add icing on the cake, Ivon was also named one of Glamour‘s Top 10 College Women of 2014. Passionate about immigration reform, she told the women’s magazine she hopes to be a Latino-rights lawyer, and eventually a Supreme Court justice like her idol Sonia Sotomayor.

Looks like Ivon’s much-deserved scholarship is just more to add to her ever-increasing education fund. Back in 2011, she also won $100,000 in tuition money from Dr. Pepper after throwing 13 passes into a large Dr. Pepper can.

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