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Oakland Scholar Eyes College After Challenging Childhood

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- Tahunni Rhoades is eyeing her future and it looks pretty bright. The Oakland High School graduate is headed to University of California, Merced in the fall to study biology. Spend some time with Tahunni and it's easy to see she is a strong young woman. She is is quick to credit much of her success to the love and support she's received from other strong women in her life, starting with her grandmother.

"She really is a guardian angel," she said. "My grandmother taught me so much growing up."

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above

Her friend Kimberly was also a big influence on Tahunni's life.

"She really always supported me and told me, like, 'you are perfect,'" recalled Tahunni.

Her mother is also a big source of inspiration, and love.

"We are just trying to do the little things together like prom and graduation," said Tahunni.

Tahunni was also elected to her school Prom Court. She went with her girlfriend of nearly two years, another very important woman in Tahunni's life.

Along with the love and support also came loss. Her friend Kimberly was murdered when Tahunni was just 13. Her grandmother passed away last year. Meanwile, Tahunni struggles daily to make a connection with her mom who was on her own most of Tahunni's childhood, working to support a daughter she was barely able to see.

Tahunni says she knows that growing up in a single parent family home can sometimes have challenges. "I was in daycare most of my life, so I really wasn't seeing my mom," she recalled. "We have just tried to make the best out of these last couple of years."

But along the way Tahunni kept one dream close to her heart, college. She had heard about Students Rising Above her sophomore year. SRA was there for Tahunni, helping with applications and money for tuition. Now she's seeing her college dreams fulfilled, not only for herself but all the other women in her life Tahunni carry's with her in her heart. And she has some advice for other young people who are struggling.

"Keep going no matter what, because not everybody is going to believe in you through your struggles," advised Tahunni. "You have to just keep pushing."

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