Girl who lived in motels for 15 years graduates high school

Girl who lived in motels for 15 years graduates high school

For years, Heather Dunnaway and her family lived in various motels in Spartanburg, South Carolina. When she started high school, she wasn't sure if she'd finish -- but she just graduated Spartanburg High School on Friday.

Every morning, she would be the first stop on the school bus; after school, she would be the last so no one would make fun of where she lived. Despite this, though, she and her siblings -- and other students that lived in motels -- were still bullied for their living arrangements. reports that Dunnaway's family moved around to different motels frequently. When her parents' car broke down, they couldn't travel for work -- so they worked at the motel to make ends meet.

Dunnaway met Dr. Gloria Close, a Spartanburg School District 7 educator, four years ago -- and she changed everything.

Close established C.A.S.T. (Care, Accept, Share, Teach), a program where volunteers help those in poverty, in 2014. She said that Dunnaway's story was inspiration. With C.A.S.T.'s help, families like Dunnaway's were able to break the cycle of moving from motel to motel.

Now, Dunnaway lives with her aunt along with her mother and sister. While she was accepted into two colleges, she doesn't think it's the right time for her. She hopes one day to be a social worker.

"I think if we were still at the motel, I wouldn't be in school anymore. I probably would have quit," Dunnaway told GoUpstate. "There's not any words, I'm just so happy. I didn't think I was going to make it this far at all."