WAKE COUNTY, North Carolina - A student graduating from East Wake High School is headed for one of the most prestigious universities in the world, despite battling homelessness.
During the toughest time in her life, Megan Faircloth, her mother, and two of her sisters slept in their car, with a busted window. Even though her shelter was parked at a Walmart, Megan stayed focused on school.
Now, she's on her way to Stanford University.
Her family was evicted during her junior year of high school. Her mother, Melba Faircloth, would spend the day trying to scrap together enough money to rent a motel room, and sometimes it would be midnight before they would figure out where they'd sleep and Megan could start her homework for her AP classes.
When her family was homeless, Megan's sanctuary was school.
"My life was really chaotic outside of school, but when I got to school everything I had, it was under my control," Megan said. "Like everything I wanted to do was my choice and so I let that empower me."
So she started a literature club, was vice president of student government, and jumped head-first into a flurry of other extra-curricular activities.
"The hardest moment was probably seeing my kids suffer," Melba said. "Megan had to do her homework in the car get up and we were staying at a homeless shelter, get up at 5 o'clock in the morning just to get her to school."
She looked for sources of inspiration anywhere she could to keep her motivated in the darkest of times. In between classes, she frequently stopped by a mural of an Albert Einstein quote to pull strength and inspiration - "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow."
Her perseverance paid off. Megan is graduating at the very top of her class with a 5.25 GPA, and she's looking forward to Stanford.
"She's maintained number one all the way through, pretty much for four years," East Wake High School principal Stacey Alston said.
"She was extremely smart," her AP statistics teacher, Jackson Glasgow said. "One of the most intelligent students I've taught here at East Wake."
"It's a lesson that teachers should hear," Emily Steele, AP Government and Economics teacher said. "Because we do have an impact, whether we know it or not. Because I know she had some teachers that maybe didn't realize."
Megan plans to major in English to pursue a career in education, to help other low-income students like herself.