What was your excuse for not being valedictorian of your high school graduating class? Mine was Law & Order. Those weekday marathons sucked me in within minutes, and before I knew it, it was 11pm and all I had learned about human anatomy was what Detective Briscoe and the medical examiner had discussed over the dead body of a mobster. It wasn't the most conducive behavior to becoming top of my class.

17-year-old Atlanta girl Chelesa Fearce had a much more legitimate excuse, not that she needed it. Along with her siblings and mother, Fearce was homeless for many years of her life, living in shelters and sometimes in a car if her family could afford one. Despite at times having to use a cell phone light to do her homework in one of Atlanta's shelters, Fearce became valedictorian of her class at Charles Drew High School with a 4.466 GPA and a 1900 on her SAT's.

"I just told myself, don't worry about that," said Fearce. "Think about the future. The future will not be like this anymore." Having completed a number of college courses before even graduating high school, Fearce will begin as a junior at Spelman College in the fall. I hereby declare Chelesa Fearce as Badass of the Month, because holy shit does that take some gumption.

[Examiner]