She’s a walking, talking miracle.
A Philadelphia teen who navigated diabetes, being unhoused, and foster care has beaten the odds, getting accepted to more than 50 colleges, Good Morning America reports.
Destiny Jackson ran away from an abusive home in Philadelphia when she was only 13 years old.
“It was getting really out of control,” is all Jackson would say about that time in her life.
After leaving, Jackson experienced homelessness, sleeping couch to couch until she began going in and out of foster care and group homes.
“It was very rocky in the beginning,” Jackson recalled.
Making matters even more complicated, Jackson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at three-years-old. She was solely responsible for managing her health since she didn’t have a consistent guardian in her life. The teen was often attending her diabetic appointments alone but learned to work with the help of doctors and workers at the homeless shelter. Because of her disease, it was tough for her to find a dedicated foster family.
“I did struggle with finding homes because a lot of people do not want someone who’s Type 1 diabetic. But then I was a teenager as well. It wasn’t something that was good,” she said.
According to the U.S. Health and Human Services department, the average age of adoption was 8.7 years old, with younger children having a higher chance of adoption than older ones.
With so much out of Jackson’s control as a teen, she focused her energy on the one thing she could control, school. With the help of North Philadelphia-based nonprofit New Options More Opportunities, Jackson was able to prepare her college applications, focusing on making her future brighter than her past with the hope of just receiving one acceptance letter.
According to The National Foster Youth Institute, less than 3% of children who age out of foster care earn a college degree, Black Enterprise reports. Those are odds that Jackson intends to beat. After submitting her applications, the teen received 56 college acceptance letters, proving that life’s challenges don’t have to define you.
“I was highly shocked. I was like, ‘Am I dreaming?’ Wake me up out of this…I did not want to allow anything to get the best of me. I always wanted to go to college. I always knew that I wanted to do something with my life. No matter what happened, I needed to keep my eye on the prize,” Jackson said.
She received acceptance from several universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California Los Angeles, and Howard University, choosing to go to Spelman College in Atlanta, her top choice.
“I’ve been in the foster care system for my second time since the age of 13. I’ve been homeless for three years. Oh wow, it’s been a lot. Thank God to my support system and the community. They have helped me along the way and been by my side,” Jackson told reporters.
The 18-year-old has plans to double major in political science with a pre-law track and communication and media studies. She also wants to stay active in the arts, pursuing acting since that was her primary coping mechanism during her most trying times. Recently, she set up a GoFundMe for people to help with her college expenses, the GoFundMe team sharing her story via their social media and donating $500 to support Jackson.
Hey @GWR, what’s the individual record for most colleges to be accepted into?advertisement
Meet Destiny Jackson—the once-homeless teen who was offered admission into 56 colleges around the country! https://t.co/m9sFRgAWB7
— GoFundMe (@gofundme) July 12, 2021
Her advice for others who may be in a similar situation: “There have been so many times where people have told me that I was incapable of doing something, whether that meant because of the fact that I was homeless, and I was in foster care or even just me being a Type 1 diabetic. But I knew that I was capable of doing whatever I put my mind to, no matter what anybody else said…I learned within life that no matter what you put your mind to, you cannot allow other people to make decisions for you. You are the author of your own story; you create your own narrative. If you want to do something, you can make it happen,” Jackson said.
To support Destiny’s college fund, click here.
Photo Courtesy of Destiny Jackson/Good Morning America