PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As Passport Academy Charter School celebrates its graduating class, it’s especially momentous for valedictorian Alexis McElroy.

The 19-year-old from Munhall, who was raised by her grandparents, suffered from depression after her grandfather passed away a few years ago.

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“I didn’t want to wake up and go to school,” McElroy said.

(Photo Credit: KDKA News)

McElroy’s grandmother also began suffering from her own health problems, forcing McElroy to become one of the main caregivers for her grandmother and younger brother.

“I had to be a guardian to him and help out,” she said. “It was hard for me to even go to school sometimes.”

Encouraged by her best friend, McElroy enrolled at Passport Academy, which blends in-person and online learning.

It was the fresh start she was looking for.

“My grandma pushed me to do good, even with all her health problems and everything,” she said. “She wanted me to finish school, be able to say I did it.”

After maintaining high grades and staying active in school activities, McElroy was named valedictorian of her class.

“Just for her to be able to continue to push forward is a great achievement,” said Passport Dean of Students Shelly Manns.

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Passport officials have been traveling to each home of their 2020 graduates, delivering personalized signs.

They visited McElroy on Monday, commending her for her hard work and dedication to academics.

The small event made for a proud grandmother in Joann Albright.

“It was tough there for a little bit, but she came through and I’m very proud of her,” Albright said. “She’s a gem.”

McElroy says caring for Albright has inspired her to pursue nursing school.

She also plans to attend cosmetology school.

“It was very hard, but I pushed myself,” McElroy said. “I always had faith in myself.”

McElroy will be able to address her class at an in-person ceremony on July 2.

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