CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- Balancing college life and finances can be pretty tough and doing it all alone is even harder.
First year University of Virginia student Kyndia Riley may seem like the typical 18 year old. She's funny, smart and full of life, but life circumstances happened that caused her to grow up fast.
"My parents are incarcerated," said Riley. "My grandparents passed and it ended up being to a point where once I went home, I wasn't able to buy the things I needed to buy and it was a struggle, something I couldn't deal with alone or at age 18."
To make matters worse, she also lost her sister due to a respiratory problem, and during holiday breaks, she goes home to an empty house.
"Now I'm by myself, coming from a college atmosphere back home to nothing," Riley said.
Because she has little to no help, Riley came up with the idea to start a GoFundMe account to help pay for school and buy the things she needs. She says, when she turns 19, she won't have any health insurance either.
"I don't know what's going to happen from here on out. I'm only 18, so I'm trying to make due with what I have," said Riley.
Not having a car makes getting a job even harder, and watching her peers go home to their families is extremely emotional.
"Coming here, watching students have someone else to depend on, it's kind of hard for me because it makes me feel like I have to grow up faster," added Riley.
But she keeps pushing on. Riley says her story motivates her to want to teach and mentor others. The memory of her strong grandmother drives her even more.
She said, "It was like a burden on her because I was all that she was thinking about and if she worried about it that much, worried about my education before passing, I should worry about it too if it meant that much to her."
If you would like to donate to Riley's GoFundMe account, click on the link alongside this story.