Against All Odds: Westland student who faced hardship on her way to college

DETROIT (WXYZ) - You have no doubt seen our Detroit 2020 series Against All Odds.

Well now we want to introduce you to a young Westland girl whose life could have been derailed by tragedy, but instead she's upward bound to a new and better future.

When Deandra Franklin talks about her dreams for the future her words are soft spoken, but her love for animals is clear.

Just looking at them is amazing enough, but to actually know how they work or what they think or why they do the things that they do encourages me to become a veterinarian," she say.

Deandra has loved animals since she was a little girl, but as an 8th grader she attended a pre-veterinarian program at Tuskegee University in Alabama. She was the only Michigan student accepted.

Deandra's journey through school with awards and accolades are all documented in a big book her mom made for her.

So her mom, who is a Navy veteran, was devastated when she had to stop working due to complications from surgery in January.

Traquis Edwards says, "I drive a school bus and with my CDL license. Any seizure that I have will not allow me to drive, I can't do anything, and I'm needing help."

Without help, Tuskegee University is out of reach for Deandra because after financial aid thousands more would be needed.

Then a double whammy for this family: a young man Deandra went to high school with and trusted took advantage of her. He and two of his friends came to her home, breached that trust and robbed her. 

They stole her computer for college, her mom's computer, headphones - even the family XBox.

Traquis Edwards says, "They took her stuff, they took my stuff, I don't understand how they could steal after everything they did to her, it just hurts even worst."

One of the three boys - all minors - was in court just last week for the robbery. Community service, restitution and probation was the punishment.

"To make me feel better I just need to get away from all of this cause it's really just taken a toll on me," Deandra says. "I can't function anymore. I can barely go outside, if I am outside I gotta have somebody with me because I feel if I turn the corner they'll be right there and try to come after me."

Deandra's mom wrote to us here at 7 asking for help so her daughter's dreams would not be derailed.

Traquis Edwards says, "I wrote to Channel 7 hoping someone would hear me."

We did hear her. We reached out to famed photographer Linda Solomon, who helps disadvantaged kids through her Pictures of Hope Project. After hearing Deandra's story Linda wanted to help keep her dreams of college alive.

She's now a Hope Scholarship winner with a full scholarship to Blackburn College in Illinois.

Another surprise for Deandra - Linda Schlesinger, the owner of Skinny Tees donated a complete wardrobe to her.

We also spoke to the President of Blackburn College Dr. John Comerford who said Deandra is the perfect student for his college, and they expect big things for her.

You know it takes a village to help a child, so even Kroger donated gift cards so Deandra would have snacks for her dorm room and gas for the trip to college.

Deandra's message to everyone who has helped her, "Your time and effort won't go to waist, I will make sure I get the education I need so that way I can become the veterinarian I want to be and also return and give back to my community."

A special thanks to Walgreen's for donating Deandra's camera and all of the cameras for pictures of hope.

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