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2 resilient teens aim to be first in family to go to college

Siblings succeed despite growing up in crime-ridden neighborhood

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A stroll through Charles Hadley Park in Miami's Liberty City brings back fearful flashbacks for Grace and Joshua Strachan.

That was where they experienced what it was like to be a victims of a crime. They were in seventh grade. It was April 2011, and they had just finished using the community center's printer. A pair of robbers stole their laptop, and brutally beat them in the process.

They survived to report the incident to police. Five years later, there haven't been arrests in the case. And the high school seniors have done their best to move forward from the terrifying experience.

"Although it's hard, we can get over it," Joshua, 18, said. "We can move on."

Growing up in the crime-ridden neighborhood has had its share of difficulties, but the teens are moving forward with their dreams. Grace was accepted to Xavier University in Ohio and Joshua is considering attending the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Grace said she wants "to major in psychology and minor in business, or maybe do a double-major." And Joshua said he wants "to major in sociology and minor in business management."

Both said their parents have been their rock, as they have continued to hear stories about children and teens who have been victims of crime. Grace and Joshua said they are lucky to have the support of their parents, because not everyone they know has it.

This is partially the reason why Grace wants to be a psychologist. She wants to work with people who are vulnerable to a life of crime.

"When you think about violence, you see it as a more inter-personal issue," Grace, 19, said.

Joshua agrees with Grace and thinks there ought to be more programs to help children, who don't have the support that they had.

"No one has to go through something alone," Joshua said. "We can have each other to back each other up."

The resilient teen's mom, Pamela Strachan, said she is overcome by pride when she hears Grace and Joshua talk about making a difference.

"I just know they're going to be successful at whatever they decide to do, and I just want them to be happy," Strachan said. "You can't let that one event define your entire life."

The family is raising money for tuition, books and room and board for Grace and Joshua. They will be the first in their family to go to college. For more information on how to invest in the future of Grace and Joshua, click here.