Elexis Webster is a 17-year-old junior with a 4.1 GPA. She's been on the honor roll throughout high school and has plans to go to college.
"As a 17-year-old junior with a 4.1 GPA, many wouldn’t expect me to have such a rough life," Elexis, of Oakland, Calif., began her application essay to Students Rising Above, a community organization dedicated to helping first-generation, low-income students achieve success.
"I grew up on the streets with an abusive drug addict for a mother, along with an older brother who molested me countless times, plus constant sickness. My life wasn’t a life, it was a war zone," CBS News reports.
Elexis told the news station that before being placed in a foster home with her sister, she was forced to live on the streets in abandoned cars and anywhere else they could find shelter. She also endured physical and emotional abuse, an older brother abused her, and Elexis and her sister would be left for days, alone and cold with nothing to eat. Elexis' immune system became compromised because of the neglect, and she almost died at age 9 because her oxygen levels were so low.
"Just surviving in the household with two monsters, with monsters as a family, surviving in an environment like that and then being able to come out of it," she told CBS News. "I knew I had to make the best of what happened to me."
Police found 14-year-old Elexis and her sister in a car during the middle of the day. Her mother was arrested, and both girls were placed in a foster home with a loving family and a new mom they affectionately call "Mema."
"When I started to allow Mema to help me and allow Mema to love me and be there for me, it made it much easier," she told CBS News. "I was, like, 'OK, this is how a family should be. This is how it should be.’”
She's been in a loving home for almost four years, and Elexis has seen her own growth.
"You have to move on," she told the news station. "I got to a place where I was able to become motivated to keep going and push for higher than a 4.0 and push to get into a really great college or university."
And as far as the future is concerned, Elexis believes the sky's the limit.
"I see success, I see happiness and I see peace," she said.
Read more at CBS News.