Good evening. For those who don’t know me my name is Leticia. I could go on and on about how hard it was to get where I’m today, but I’ll do my best to keep it short. There were a lot of people who thought Cal Hills was just a school for bad kids or kids who “didn’t care“ but I saw it as an opportunity to get a little extra help because that’s what I needed. I was a sad teenager, I had lost my step mom and baby brother a year prior to my freshman year. I decided to do independent studies for my first 2 years of high school because it was easier for me to work at my own pace and be by myself for a while. At first I took too much advantage of my academic independence; I wasn’t finishing my assignments on time and that pushed me back, and man, I regretted that later. That was just the beginning though. My junior year I started to find myself again, I went to therapy and I thought things were getting better. Senior year started, but turned out to be my worst year by far. I lost my number one supporter, Isabelle. She was the one who always believed in me and had my back. On September 4th, 2017 God took her away. Having your #1 supporter next to you one second, to finding out they’re now watching you from above the next was probably the hardest thing God has ever thrown at me. My mind was always so fuzzy while I would try to do my schoolwork or even get ready for school in the morning; I would be drained from crying so much the night before. Yesterday, June 4th, also actually marks 6 years since Joie and Angelo were taken from me and a year and 9 months since Isabelle has been gone. As I grieved for these people and dealt with so much on my own, I lost what felt like myself along the way but I always did my best to keep a smile and to move forward. At some of my worst moments, I’ve threatened my teachers and told them I was going to give up and drop out, then I’ve cried and laughed. I’ve been through every emotion you can possibly experience. I’ve had thoughts of wanting to just give up in general.
As hard as it was to keep a smile and move forward, I still did it because at the end of the day no one is going wipe my tears and tell me what to do, other than myself. I know they say these years fly by but I’m not gonna lie, these have been the longest years of my life so far. For those who don’t know, I was supposed to be part of the class of 2018, so yes I am a year late. But the important part is that I finished. The concern over not graduating on time was the reason why I wanted to drop out so badly. Ms.Mitchell out of all the teachers was there for that; she’s the teacher I would always complain to the moment I’d step on campus. I felt like a failure. I felt stupid. I had to remind myself the people who let me down were the people who wanted to see me down, see me give up, but I refused to let them see that, to let what they expected of me become the reality. I told myself to be brave when I was afraid. So I put on my big girl pants and I did it. Sleepless nights doing homework, nights spent with so many tears over the stress, but I got it done by December of 2018. If I have one word of advice it would be to just breathe. I know it’s easier said than done. I used to hate when everyone told me to be strong and to just keep pushing but now I realize that’s what I needed to do. To just keep going. Breathe. Be easy on yourself, you’re human. I thank all the teachers from Cal Hills for dealing with me these few years, mostly Ms.Mitchell, Ms.Bence, Ms.Augustine, and Mr.Stice for letting me have my breakdowns in the hallway and for listening to me complain about it all. I thank my best friend Nialani for experiencing my whole high school years with me and my family for not giving up on me once. I thank Joie, Angelo, and Isabelle for telling me the wise words you did before god took you guys away. This was for you. I told you guys I’d make it. Thank you.