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Left Homeless Mid-Senior Year, Arkansas Teen Anya Sifuentes Still Earned a Track Scholarship


Senior year can be difficult enough when it comes to managing the balancing act of grades, celebrations, and plans for after high school. But for one Arkansas teen, it also meant getting a crash course in adulthood.

In one fell swoop, Northside High School senior Anya Sifuentes had to suddenly deal with the realities of being homeless and taking care of her younger family members. And while doing all that, she managed to secure a college scholarship, according to CBS affiliate KFSM-TV. Last month, Anya sat at a table, wearing a white dress with a floral print and a wide grin. She was signing a college scholarship to run track at her state university.

But her future wasn’t always so clear. According to the local news station KFSM-TV, Anya and her family were locked out of their home on October 1.

“I went home right after I went to school and realized that I couldn’t get into my home anymore,” she said. In a panic, Anya called her track coach.

“She called me, and she was just distraught,” head track coach Jeff Smith told KFSM-TV. “I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ She goes, ‘I’m homeless. I don’t have any clothes. I don’t have a place to go.'”

When the situation unfolded, Anya’s mother stepped out of the picture, leaving the high school senior to take care of herself, her two younger siblings, and a younger nephew. As noted by KFSM-TV, she picked up jobs, secured an apartment for the family, and paid the bills while still going to school and track practice.

“It just slaps you in the face — knowing that you’re an adult now,” Anya told KFSM-TV. “You can’t play around now. You can’t just slack off one day, because it will hit you later.”

Anya isn’t the first to overcome homelessness in high school. Her story is one of multiple stories of young people who managed to go to school while facing the challenges of homelessness.

For Anya, the stress pushed her to run as a stress release.

“Like they say, ‘running away from your problems’ — that’s what I did,” she said. “I literally ran away from my problems. Even if it meant like 10 miles.”

Her dedication — and speed — ended up catching the eye of college scouts. And last month, it all paid off when Anya signed a contract accepting a scholarship to run track with the University of Ozarks.

“I just look back and think, ‘This is who you are. You’re someone strong,'” Anya told KSFM-TV. “You don’t give up easily. Even though times get rough, you have to keep going. Even though you fall down, you have to keep going.”

Teen Vogue has reached out Anya to discuss her situation and her success.

Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: What It’s Like to Be Homeless in College



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