Written by Rachel Stone · Photos by Danny Fulgencio

Living with a painful chronic condition or struggling as a foster child turned teen mom — youth here and everywhere deal with hardships, but few do so while maintaining a strong academic record and emerging into leaders among their peers.

Sherry Bass

"Children raised in foster care are far less likely to graduate from high school than others. According to a 2011 national study from the University of Chicago, foster kids are more likely to be suspended or expelled, repeat a grade or drop out. They also score lower on average on standardized tests. Bass is an exception."

Aylin Hernandez

Even though she has her limits, Aylin is a successful student at Bishop Dunne Catholic School, expected to graduate this month. She’s a typical teenager, always on her phone. She loves watching “Pretty Little Liars” on Netflix. And she’s a huge fan of the rapper Drake. She wants to go to Disneyland and to visit Drake’s hometown, Toronto.

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