SAN DIEGO - A local mom who dropped out of high school has made a remarkable recovery on her road to redemption.
After being elected as the student speaker at Cuyamaca College's graduation ceremony Wednesday evening, honors graduate Rebekah Shtayfman, whose past as a high school dropout and homeless teenage single mom is a moving and inspirational story.
“It was the best thing in my life, besides my daughters birth of course, it was one of the greatest moments of my life,” said Shtayfman.
The 25-year-old has been accepted to UC-Berkeley, where she starts in the fall as a physics major.
Shtayfman dropped out of El Cajon Valley High School as a junior after becoming pregnant.
She became a mother at age 18, and went through stints of homelessness, struggling to make a life for herself and new baby.
"I went through a lot of depression during that time because I was a new mom and just left an abusive relationship so it was really hard for me," said Shtayfman.
While working around 30 hours a week, the motivated mom decided to enroll at Cuyamaca College.
"I cleaned houses and did whatever it took, babysat I did everything to make sure I could make a living at least until I got on my feet.”
Shtayfman spent the past five years earning her Associates degree in Physics, graduating with a 3.8 GPA, joining the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and serving as a student tutor in mathematics and physics
Fewer than 40% American adults have a degree.
"I think that if you really truly want it you can work for it and you will get there," said Shtayfman. “I did whatever it took to get here and I did it!”