PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Jada Herron has a bright future. The 19-year old starts at Grand Canyon University next month, where she plans to become an elementary school music teacher. But the Valley teen's path to success has been rockier than most. Jada used to be homeless.

"I did feel cheated," said Herron. "I feel like my childhood was robbed."

Growing up, Herron and her siblings bounced from one apartment and motel to the next as her mother battled drugs and alcohol. In 2nd grade, Herron went to live with her grandfather, but that only lasted until high school.

"It made me sad," said Herron. "It was like, I don't know why my mom couldn't make the right choices and why I couldn't have a normal life, and why my grandpa had to deal with raising her kids."

Herron spent her junior year in high school with no home, forced to crash at a friend's house to have somewhere to sleep. It's a story that's become very common in Arizona as the homeless youth crisis gets worse and worse. According to the Arizona Department of Education, there are roughly 7,500 homeless teenagers across the state.

Dana Bailey runs the Homeless Youth Connection, a non-profit devoted to helping struggling teens find a place to live. The organization also provides financial assistance and clothing, so homeless teens can stay in school and get their high school diplomas.

"By helping them eliminate those barriers, they can really focus on their classwork and education," said Bailey. "They're not worried about where their next meal is coming from and not worried about where they are going to sleep."

Herron is one of their success stories. The help she received from the Homeless Youth Connection has turned her life around.

"Seeing my mom as an addict and as an alcoholic, it scared me," said Herron. "I was like, I don't want to end up like that if I ever have kids. I don't want my kids to ever see me do that. I want to be more than what my mom is."

For more information on the Homeless Youth Connection, click here.


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