Tiara Gaillard is only 17-years-old, but the young woman from Kalamazoo, Michigan has been through her fair share of struggles.
As Michigan Live reports, Tiara, her single mother and her five older siblings shuffled from living in a tent, to a rehabilitated crack house. She and her sister even had a short stint in foster care. Now, the family lives with Tiara’s grandmother.
Despite these difficult circumstances, the graduating senior from Kalamazoo Central High School will be attending Stanford University in the fall.
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Due to her mother’s low-income, Stanford will be paying for Tiara’s tuition, room and board. (The private university covers costs for families that make less than $65,000). She plans to major in public policy.
Hailing from one of Michigan’s poorest neighborhoods, Tiara’s academic scorecard certainly made her stand out — she has a GPA of 4.2 and an ACT score that ranks in the 95th percentile.
To the Gaillard family’s credit, Tiara appears to be following in the footsteps of her high-achieving siblings, all of which have succeeded academically, despite their family’s financial instability.
“My family is incredibly close, and I don’t think any one of us would have accomplished what we’ve accomplished without that closeness,” Tiara, who is the youngest of six, said. “All of us were on the honor roll in high school and all of my brothers and sisters have gone on to college.”
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Tiara’s story is proof that you can accomplish anything through hard work and perseverance.
“Maybe what people can learn from me is that a situation that many people would look at as a disadvantage can be flipped around and turned into an advantage,” she said. “It can make you stronger.”