By Lauren Pastrana

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Alesha Dillon proudly shows her academic certificates, of which there are several, and the Atlantic Technical College graduate then headed straight to the frontlines of the pandemic, as a traveling licensed practical nurse.

“I’ve seen some traumatizing things, things that I was not prepared for,” Dillon shared, including that life on the road is not easy. “You are away from family for long periods of time. The longest I’ve ever been away from family was six months, that was last year, that was rough.”

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Dillon worked in California, Colorado, Georgia, six days a week, while also studying to become a registered nurse.

“I want to keep pushing forward and achieve the highest degree I can possibly achieve, and that’s what I’m doing,” said Dillon.

What motivates this 23-year-old? Her children, Raniyah and Zach.

“I tear up when I talk about them, they are the reason I have made it this far,” she said.

Zach was born when Alesha was just 15, what seems like light years ago.

“I was in an abusive relationship at the time which landed me in the hospital or ICU. I had a collapsed lung and it went downhill from there,” said Dillon.

The baby went with her stepmom, her father stopped speaking to her, and she ended up in foster care, which was a very trying time.

“I was always running away from the foster home trying to get back to the abusive relationship. I don’t know why I thought that was ‘love’ at the time,” she said.

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Dillon got pregnant again, her daughter Raniyah was placed in the system. Yet through all this turmoil, something clicked.

“Three days after my C-section with my daughter, I called my teacher and said unlock my classes,” she recalled.

Alesha graduated high school at age 16 as the valedictorian of Maverick High School.

Smart and determined not to be a statistic, she plowed ahead. When Alesha aged out of the Foster Care System, her housing, support, and money for college, all provided through ChildNet, Alesha was incredibly grateful.

“They are phenomenal, just phenomenal,” she said. “It’s what you do with the tools and the resources that they give you, that’s how you change your story.”

With her stepmom’s help, her dad back in her life, she is working extra hard to provide an idyllic future for her kids, shielded from trouble, and nothing like her teenage years.

“I haven’t had sleepovers, I didn’t do the ‘teenage stuff’ because I was pumping breast milk and doing what moms do at 15. I didn’t have a life,” she admitted.

Her medical career is only one goal, as she’s started her own business, plans to author a book, and give back in the form of help and hope.

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“To the ones that are in foster care who are in my position, to let them know, ‘Hey, you can do this.’”

Lauren Pastrana