The following is a guest blog post by Irazu Rodriguez, a senior at Synergy Quantum Academy in Los Angeles, California. Following a brain aneurism in the summer of 2012, Irazu faced months of rehabilitation and healing. She worked online with a PresenceLearning speech-language pathologist (SLP) during her junior and senior years to help recover her speech. After tremendously hard work, Irazu is now about to graduate with her classmates and has recently been accepted to college. In honor of her achievement, PresenceLearning is proud to help sponsor Irazu’s tuition, and is matching donations from generous people like you! Please take a moment to donate (and share) our campaign on GoFundMe.
Every morning I wake up with the bright sunlight on my face and a big smile because I no longer have to worry if it will be my last day. I went through an experience that few people have overcome, the challenge of struggling for my own life. Everyday, I smile for a good reason and this reason changed my life. Before anything, I would love to tell you about my life and what I have overcome.
My name is Irazu Rodriguez, and I’m a senior in Synergy Quantum Academy. I was born in Mexico. When I turned two years old, my mother and I immigrated to Texas and from there we moved to Los Angeles. I’ve been living here since then. Later, my mother went back to Mexico to get my two older siblings that were left there. My mother saw that living here in California, she could give us a better future than what she had. I’m the middle child out of four children and I’m going to be the first to graduate high school. My older sister couldn’t finish school because she had to babysit my sister and me while my mother worked to support us. My older brother went to Jefferson High School, but didn’t graduate because he needed a few more credits and decided to drop out.
On June 14, 2012, I had an accident that I will never forget. It changed my life and the way I am now. One of the veins in my brain popped while I was in school and I had to be taken to the emergency room. I was terrified to find myself stuck in a room with computers around me. My head was hurting and it felt like someone was just hitting me really hard. I did not know what happened to me and I could not move my whole left side. I slowly touched my head, my hair was all gone, and a piece of my skull was gone too. But, the worst part was the large scar on my head. Many things come to mind. I thought, “Am I still beautiful with this scar?” or “ Who will want to talk to a girl with a scar on her head?” These questions flashed through my mind all the time.
I spent my whole summer in the hospital with no one to talk to. I was later told the story about what happened when I was brought into the hospital. As soon as I was brought into the emergency room, the doctors had to get ready for surgery. The doctors had to remove my skull right away in order for them to be able to clean the mess the blood clot caused. I was in coma for few days, but in a strange way, I was aware of my surroundings. My family and I still wonder about the days I spent in a coma. I felt someone or something with me while I was in coma. I felt my uncle, who passed away, right next to me taking care of me. I knew in that second everything was going to be okay, and I’m not alone.
When I came out of the hospital, I had to wear a heavy helmet to protect my brain and prevent any further damage. However, when it was time for me to enter school, I had a really difficult time being accepted because I had to wear a helmet to all my classes to protect my head. I re-entered school after a long period of absence and I thought I wasn’t going to graduate on time with the rest of my class. When I was recovering from my accident, I was becoming a role model for many teenagers and adults. I talked to them about my experience and how I overcame it. I felt really great talking about my accident by making them realize they had many things in life to be thankful for.
This is one significant event in my life that I will not forget. Even though I went through a lot and missed many activities, I have become a role model for many people. This event also made me a strong young girl and made me reach for things I want in my future. I spent my 2012 summer in the hospital, but this summer I was active by giving a presentation about my experience in front of three hundred people. When I finished my speech, I felt proud of myself.
As teenagers, we want to be free and do what every teenager wants to do. Some teenagers will break laws, drop out of high school, join a gang, end up in jail, or have a family at a young age. This is because some teenagers don’t look at the future and what they want to accomplish. My whole life, I’ve been told I wasn’t going to graduate from high school, so why even try; I was going to end up like the rest of my friends, with no education and pregnant. I wasn’t going to let anyone destroy my dreams to become a successful person.
Now I’m going to be the first of my whole family to graduate from high school and enter college. My family thinks that since my older sister got pregnant at a young age and my older brother dropped out of high school, that I’m going to follow in their footsteps and end up like them. I told them that I’m not going to end up the same and I’m going to be a successful person. I have a dream and I’m not going to let any negative people destroy it and stop me from reaching for my goals.
Some people think bad things about the people who live where I do, in South Los Angeles. Some people think we are bad people. They think all of us are in gangs and we are rude to others. They only listen to the news or articles written about South Central. But not all of this is reality; we have parents that work hard everyday to give us a better education than they had. They do not want their children to end up with no education or earn minimum wage like they do. Not everyone is bad; we all want a better future. But it’s been hard to reach a better image since most of us are immigrants.
Now that I’m a senior in high school, I’m going to show the world that no matter where you’re from, you can be a successful person. I don’t want to be the girl that people think I’m going to end up like. I’m going to work hard everyday and to go to college to get my diploma. I will reach my goals no matter what and be the person I want to be. I would love to be able to help other people to reach their goals. Helping each other we can make a better world.
Irazu, you have been such an inspiration to all of us at PresenceLearning, and we know your future is limitless!