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Monet Spencer, 18, smiles as she is photographed in her Hill District apartment. Spencer was left homeless after her mother passed away in February 2016, leaving her and her twin brother to care for themselves. Spencer now lives on her own, in a subsidized apartment. Spencer attends Brashear High School and was recently accepted to Carlow University. (Photo by Justin Merriman/PublicSource)

It’s 4.30 a.m. and Monet Spencer wakes up, scoops Maxwell House into a coffee maker and waits for the air to fill with the aroma she remembers from breakfasts in her late mother’s kitchen.

Wrapped in that comfort, she starts her long day. She’ll catch two buses and a trolley to get from her Hill District apartment to Brashear High School, where she’s a senior taking computer science and AP English classes and playing flute in the band.

She hears her classmates grumble about perceived hardships like broken phones or difficult tests.

Monet has no time for those complaints.

She knows real hardship.


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