The last few years have been tough for Rachel Jeantel, but the Florida resident achieved her dream of graduating from high school this week.
After the death of her friend, Trayvon Martin, she not only had to be a witness in the George Zimmerman trial, but she was widely ridiculed for it.
But she kept the promise she made to Martin, who was gunned down in February 2012, and continued to achieve success. It did not come easily.
The 20-year-old graduated from high school with help of a team of individuals offering mentorship, advice and support, The Washington Post reports.
The Jeantel today is quite different from the girl the nation watched sitting on the witness stand during the George Zimmerman trial last summer.
She is confident and self-assured, ready to face new challenges.
Rachel Jeantel received an offer from radio host Tom Joyner for a full scholarship to any historically black college or university of her choice.
An assessment determined she was in need of tutoring and mentorship that Joyner’s foundation helped pay for, but Rachel made the most of.
With the help of her lawyer, family and friends, Rachel was able to plow through a jam-packed schedule of intense tutoring, therapy and exercise.
"Me graduating is a big thing for the whole village, we did it," Jeantel said. "And I’m tremendously thankful for them, for all they’ve done for me."
Jeantel also had the support of Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton.
"She didn’t give up and that goes to say a lot for her character," Fulton said. "And I’m glad my son Trayvon seen it in her, because she is truly a diamond in the rough."
Jeantel said she couldn’t have gotten this far without Trayvon.
"After we leave here it is back to work. College is the main thing, that’s the next step," she said of her fallen friend. "And I want that college degree."