YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Graduating high school is a moment that most students look forward to, but for some, the journey there is a lot harder than it is for others. 

At an early age, De’Andre Edwards realized his road wouldn’t be easy.

“I couldn’t rely on anybody else to do things for me, I just had to go do them on my own, and I had to figure out how to do it while I was still in school while keeping my grades up and still making sure I get to work on time and school on time,” Edwards said.

When Edwards was 16, he had to move out of the home that he shared with his mother and siblings. From that point on, things would be different. 

He moved in with his grandmother on his mother’s side for close to a year. Then, he moved in with his grandmother on his father’s side. 

“I had to realize I had to do everything on my own, like, I had to get a job. That meant I had to take more responsibility at a younger age,” he said.

So, Edwards worked… a lot.

“My first job was at KFC… I found a better job at Marc’s, and I worked there for a few months. Then at the time I was working there, I also got another job at McDonald’s… I worked two jobs at one time. Then after that, I worked at Five Guys, and I have another job at Family Dollar,” Edwards said. 

At times, the work took a toll on him in school.

“There were days I couldn’t stay [awake] in class. My teachers started to notice it, too, so I got rid of one of the jobs,” he said. 

But, he says his teachers were understanding, and many of them even went above and beyond to help him — from taking him to get his ID and birth certificate, to helping him open a bank account, to encouraging him and helping him form helpful relationships. 

Edwards eventually graduated, both from Chaney High School and Choffin Career and Technical Center. 

Even while working, he kept his grades up, so much so he was able to earn a full-ride scholarship to The Ohio State University, where he plans to major in business management. 

Edwards said the support of those around him helped him push through, even in moments he felt like it was too much. 

Now, he has a message for others who are fighting to get to that graduation day as well.

“Don’t give up. As tiring as it might seem, a few months down the line, it’ll be worth it,” he said.