08/29/2012 09:14 am ET

John Antunes 'Undroppable': Teen Shares Story Of Growing Up In Poverty (VIDEO)

This video is part of "Undroppable," a documentary project from @Jason_Pollock that tells the stories of young people who have overcome significant obstacles to graduate from high school.

John Antunes thought that he would never graduate from high school. Originally from Cape Verde, an island off the coast of West Africa, John was forced to drop out of school when he was young to help pay for his mother's medical expenses. When he was 17, his mother died in the hospital. Despite his desire to go back to school, John had to continue working to support himself and his brother.

"I always liked school," he says. "I wanted to finish my education and get to my goals."

After moving to the United States, John began his schooling again, and with the help of his teachers, his English quickly improved. Now, he is on-track to graduate.

"I was never thinking I would graduate high school," he says. "So that will be one of the most important days of my life. I will never forget that day."

Watch the video above to hear John tell his story, and visit the "Undroppable" YouTube channel for more videos.

HuffPost Live will be taking a comprehensive look at the persistence of poverty in America Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 from 12-4 p.m. EDT and 6-10 p.m. EDT. Click here to check it out -- and join the conversation.