A University of Manitoba student is defying the odds and will be awarded a special honour. 

Ashley Richard has gone from being a homeless high school student to a third year student at the Asper School of Business.

"When I tell people they're shocked," she said. "I guess at the time it was really challenging. But to me it was just my life, and I just had to get through it."

Six years ago, at age 15 when she was living in Toronto, a conflict with her mother led her to move out on her own.

Unable to pay rent, Richard faced eviction a number of times and eventually wound up homeless. 

ashley richard

Richard, who will be recognized at the 2014 Manitoba Aboriginal Achievement Awards tonight, spoke to Marcy Markusa on CBC's Information Radio Thursday morning. (CBC)

She spent a year rotating between staying in shelters and living on the streets. 

Despite that, Richard continued to attend and excel in high school. 

"They couldn't believe I was still showing up [at school]," she said. "I wanted to do something better for myself because I knew that I could."

After a year on the streets of Toronto, Richard's grandmother in Winnipeg took her in and became her biggest motivator. 

"She's my biggest inspiration and she's the reason I do everything I do today. Everyday I get up and go to school, I do it for her," she said. 

After graduating from high school, Richard enrolled at the Asper School of Business.

On Thursday evening she will accept the Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award at the 2014 Manitoba Aboriginal Achievement Awards.

"It means a lot," Richard said. "I had a really tough time getting to where I am today. So it's really special to be recognized for my commitment to the community."

Richard's grandmother has since passed away, but she hopes by sharing her own story, she'll pay it forward.

"I hope I can inspire people the way my grandmother inspired me," she said. 

Richard plans to work in the aboriginal community when she graduates from university.