Monae Woods is proud of herself, as she should be. The 18-year-old graduate of Des Moines Hoover High School, and current student at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), didn't have an easy path to become the first high school graduate in her family.

During her junior year, her mom had to move but that wasn't an option for Monae. So, she got an apartment, and roommate, and stayed in Des Moines. Unfortunately, one day that roommate invited someone over. That person took Monae's wallet and more than $1,000. Monae worked two jobs and quit going to class while she lived in her car, without heat, during the winter. She told KCCI,

I was homeless by choice but it was because I knew what I wanted for my future... My car ended up being my home... That was the one thing that couldn't be taken from me.

Monae became part of the Flex Academy at Des Moines Hoover, for struggling students. Donors and an initiative from the United Way paid her rent and Monae eventually became the first high school graduate in her family.

Now attending DMACC, Monae is an intern at Principal Financial Group in Des Moines and has a new car. Her future is looking bright.