Diamond Syas found herself homeless and largely alone during last school year. It would have been easy to become another Minnesota dropout statistic. But she didn't quit.
The sweet payoff for that struggle came last Thursday when Diamond, a senior at Bloomington Kennedy High School, took the stage at Mariucci Arena, accepted her diploma and put her college plans back on track.
MPR News in May profiled Diamond and the challenges she faced as a homeless teen in the Twin Cities. Her parents weren't in the picture and the burden of working jobs to make needed money and still keep up with school was overwhelming.
But she didn't let it break her.
She said she shared her story because she wanted to inspire other kids struggling in school.
"Don't be scared to ask for help at all, not just from teachers, [but] from anybody who you feel like you can trust," she said. "I did it, I know you can. I don't want to hear nobody say they can't, because I'll hop on them and say, 'Yes, you can!'"
If you'd like to help
Diamond was one of 45 students at Bloomington Kennedy High School who were categorized as homeless.
The school's Random Acts of Kindness fund has helped students like Diamond get over financial barriers that might hinder school achievement. Call 952-681-5003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to contribute. Checks should be made out to ISD 271.
A supporter also helped Diamond set up a crowdfunding site to help ease her financial hardship.
Correction (June 8, 2016): An earlier version of this story misspelled Shaun Syas' name in a photo caption.