While the idea of having a baby at a young age is a daunting concept for even the most prepared mother-to-be, Roselawn High School senior Reyna Gracia welcomed it as an opportunity to better herself and her academic future.
“I chose not to let this pregnancy and bad choices hold me back from what is good for me,” said Gracia. “I pushed through my bad influences and wrong choices and decided I’m not going to let whatever held my mom back from what she wanted to do hold me back.”
Gracia will be one of 23 local students who will be recognized on Tuesday during the Every Student Succeeding program, which honors students who have flourished in the face of adversity. The ceremony will mark the 11th consecutive year that the Stanislaus Association of School Administrators Charter has partnered with the Stanislaus County Office of Education, Mocse Credit Union and E. & J. Gallo Winery to honor student perseverance.
“To be representing Roselawn High in Every Student Succeeding means a lot to me,” said Gracia. “It is a huge accomplishment to me and my family. My family is so proud of me. Every time they talk about it they cry because it’s the most any member of our family has received.
“I’m proud of myself so much I want everybody to know what I am accomplishing,” added Gracia.
Gracia said that having her daughter Royalty when she was 16 years old was not the only challenge she faced during her lifetime as she and her three siblings were also raised by her “nana and tata.”
“My mother and father were never really there for me growing up as much as I needed them to,” said Gracia. “We were living on whatever my tata made as a truck driver and whatever my mom wanted to give us out of the welfare check. We got food stamps so that was okay, I guess, but we wanted more input from them both, my mother and father.”
Gracia said that once she graduates from Roselawn, she plans to attend college to become a nurse or a doctor, although she said she will wait on pursuing the latter until she finds out how nursing pans out.
“I’m excited to be doing something with my life that I never really thought I could do until I tried and pushed myself to believe I am good enough for this. I have such a supporting family, a great boyfriend to back me up and amazing friends who love and support me,” said Gracia. “I also have my daughter to motivate me every day.”
Other Turlock Unified School District students who will be recognized on Tuesday include Edward Esquivel-Zapien from Julien Elementary School and Amairany Rodriguez from Wakefield Elementary School. At the end of the program one student will be selected as the region nominee and receive a $500 scholarship. They will then participate in the state selection process.
The Every Student Succeeding ceremony is scheduled for 7 a.m. on Tuesday at the Petersen Event Center in Modesto, 720 12th Street. Tickets are $15 each and must be purchased in advance.