Things That Matter

In One Week This Latina Became Homeless, Her Mom Abandoned Her, Yet She Landed A Huge Scholarship That Changed Her Life

Anya Sifuentes knows how to outrun adversity. The high school athlete from Northside High School in Arkansas has overcome homelessness and is now on her way to college.

And so much of her success has to do with her strength and determination, key traits of any prime athlete.

Last October, Sifuentes, went home after school to find she was permanently locked out of her own home.

“It was late September that things just started getting strange,” Sifuentes explained in an interview with CBS affiliate KFSM-TV. “On October 1, I went home right after I went after school and realized that I couldn’t get in my home anymore.”

The reason why Sifuentes and her family were expelled from their home is unknown but according to CBS, as soon as she learned the news she went straight to her track coach.

“She called me and she was just distraught,” Jeff Smith, Sifuentes’ track coach told CBS News. “I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ She goes, ‘I’m homeless. I don’t have any clothes. I don’t have a place to go.'”

Sifuentes’ story took a turn for the even worse when her mother told her that she was leaving the family as well.

“My mom started really acting weird and you could tell that she was late on all of her bills and she wasn’t acting the same anymore,” Sifuentes said. “My mom said that ‘I’m not gonna stay with y’all.’ I thought, ‘Why?'”

Left to raise two younger siblings and a nephew, Sifuentes says she realized she had to step up and take things into her own hands. “To think that we’d be separated — I did not like the feeling,” she said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be the same anymore.”

Determined to keep her siblings and family together, Sifuentes took on multiple jobs, got her family into a new apartment and started to sign the checks for bills. This, all while attending classes and going to track practice.

“It just slaps you in the face — knowing that you’re an adult now,” Sifuentes explained in an interview. “You can’t play around now. You can’t just slack off one day because it will hit you later.”

Still, despite all of the stress she had over money and keeping her family together, Sifuentes says she overcame her depression by keeping her goal of being happy in mind.

“I set a goal in my mind. I have a goal to be happy, even though all this is going on and my family doesn’t seem like a family anymore,” Sifuentes said. “I’m depressed and I’m stressed and money is overwhelming right now. I thought to myself, ‘God is the only thing that’s going to get me through all this pain.'”

Running became an outlet for the teen, and eventually, it became her champion.

This past year, the high school senior was offered a scholarship by the University of the Ozarks to run for their team. She signed with them last month and will be headed to their track field in the coming Fall semester.

“I just look back and think, ‘This is who you are. You’re someone strong,'” Sifuentes stated on her impression of herself after overcoming so much. “You don’t give up easily. Even though times get rough, you have to keep going. Even though you fall down, you have to keep going.”

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