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    MURFREESBORO, Tennessee (WSMV) -- “I always thought about being different ever since I was born,” said JaQuan LeGrand.

JaQuan LeGrand is the first of eight siblings to graduate from high school. But getting to this point wasn’t that simple.

He moved from Florida to escape a bad environment. However, after getting to Tennessee, he faced homelessness and even walked an hour every day just to go to school.

“Coming here bettered me. It changed my life around. I went to church down here. It just started being different,” said LeGrand.

Along his journey, he found someone he could count on.

“He and another student declared themselves as my sons. I believe it had more to do with the Halloween candy I had at my house,” said Leslie Mertz, teacher at Holloway High School.

As his teacher, Mertz taught him both in and outside of the classroom. She helped him open a bank account and even get his ID.

“He still just keeps chugging along. I think that perseverance is what’s missing in a lot of not even students, but adults, and all of us,” Mertz said.

With the tools to succeed, JaQuan plans to attend college and major in computer engineering.

“I want to see what my life will be like when I get into college and when I get out of college," LeGrand said. "I am just ready for my future."

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