When Haley, Kassidy, and Sierra Yeckes were just three months old, their mother died, and their father went to prison.

Screenshot/Fox 5

The triplets from Las Vegas, Nevada, were eventually sent to live with their grandmother. But no one knew how bad their living conditions really were.

In an interview with Fox 5, Sierra explained:

“Although they let us stay with them we were not given food as much or clothing, toiletries and all that stuff.”

The girls have now graduated from high school, but it’s a feat they never thought they’d accomplish. In fact, Haley revealed she didn’t think she’d make it to see 18.

As FOox 5 reported, the first grandmother they were sent to stay with didn’t believe in schooling, so the girls didn’t enroll in school until they were 8 years old. By then, their father had been released from prison and moved the girls to the Las Vegas area from the town they had been living in with their grandmother.

Although reunited with their father, Sierra said the girls were forced to fend for themselves:

“While (our dad) was doing his thing we were left to kind of take care of ourselves, and so we did. You know we did our own cooking and cleaning from, well, since we lived with him.”

Their father’s stints away from home grew longer over time — sometimes he would be gone for weeks, other times months.

In an interview with KSNV, Kassidy explained how hard it was not having their father around:

“He was absent weeks on end and it just was a lot of home stress.”

Then, in the early hours of the morning while their dad was away, their home was shot up by bullets, Haley told Fox 5:

“There was three bullets, three of us. It was just like ‘Hmmm.’”

The girls then lived with their other grandparents who hardly provided life’s basic necessities. According to a statement from the Clark County School District news homepage, the Yeckeses spent periods of time homeless, without food or the means to get to school.

They picked up odd jobs babysitting and working at a local grocery store to pay for basic needs, as they were technically classified as unaccompanied minors. Between school and work, they had no option but to walk everywhere to get around:

“Apart from waking up every morning to walk to and from school, we have to walk to work and then from work, even if you work till 10, 11, 12, (and) still have to walk home ourselves,” Sierra Yeckes said.

“You learn what to avoid, and to follow the street lights kind of thing, and to look over your shoulder,” Haley Yeckes said.

By the time the girls reached middle school, they were hardened children. As the school district press release described:

[…They] shared a very guarded and defensive stance toward teachers, counselors, administration and support staff at school. The triplets were having attendance issues and were failing most of their classes.

They were then introduced by their school to the University of Las Vegas (UNLV) GEAR UP program to help keep them in school and get ready for college.

Through the counseling they received in addition to academic support, the girls finally revealed the difficulty of their living situation and family life. And throughout it all, they supported each other. As Sierra told KLNV:

“The three of us have relied on each other as a support system and that helped a lot actually … so, I think if we hadn’t had that, if we were all single children or if we were even different ages we’d be in a different situation.”

And the situation they’ve found themselves in is wonderfully different than what they have ever experienced before. The Yeckeses have all graduated at the top of their class and will be attending the University of Las Nevada on full scholarship.

Screenshot/FOX 5

A social worker at Valley High School, Sarah Garcia, called the girls “little miracles,” while school counselor Leon Wright said:

“These three girls together are the definition of adversity rising above any challenge, any obstacle thrown their way and still wanting to look at success.”

Following their graduation, the girls were regaled with a series of surprises set up by FOX 5’s “Surprise Squad,” including $5,000 each to go toward books and expenses, a gift from their grocery store employer, new cars to help get them around on campus, and free gas for a year.

Haley told Fox 5:

“I’m so excited because we get to live on campus and we’ll actually want to go home at the end of the day and we’ll finally be able to have a place to solidly do our work.”

She later added:

“You can do it! (Things in life) can suck at times, or a lot of the time, but like you can do it.”

Haley plans to pursue an education in social work to help other children like herself and her sisters, while Kassidy will pursue a career in medicine. Sierra wants to study to become a teacher. Classes for the sisters start this summer.

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