Hometown Hero: Austintown student overcomes odds

Melissa Stroud grew up in the foster care system, but that didn't stop her from excelling in her academics and work in the community

Melissa Stroud grew up in the foster care system, but that didn't stop her from excelling in her academics and work in the community.

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Melissa Stroud is a junior at Austintown Fitch High School. She has been in foster care for the majority of her life and has been moved around for much of it — from foster homes to group homes, eventually landing here in the Youngstown area with her foster mother, Lori.

Stroud’s high school assistant principal calls her a success story, because she has overcome all odds.

She is on the Northeast Ohio Youth Advisory Board and was elected media spokesperson for the Ohio Youth Advisory Board. She recently went on a trip to Washington D.C. to advocate for foster youth. And, she was recently inducted into the National Honor Society.

“Her class has over 450 students in it, and for her to be recognized as one of the students that excels academically, socially, her character, her commitment to the community and community service all really speaks volumes about who Melissa is as a young person,” said Austintown Fitch High School Assistant Principal David Purins.

Stroud says her work with foster care organizations has really helped her find her place.

“Everybody always asks me what I want to do when I get older, where do I see myself in five years. I never really knew. But advocating for foster youth, it’s something that’s really close to home and something I’m very passionate about, and I’m really good at helping people,” she said.

Stroud also has two jobs and is a tutor. She said she plans to continue helping others and working hard on her studies.

It is for these reasons that Stroud was named this week’s Hometown Hero.

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