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Turlock students recognized for perseverance
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Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy third grader Emilio Delgadillo is honored at the Every Student Succeeding awards program in March. - photo by Photo Contributed

Third grader Emilio Delgadillo is well known around the Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy campus for not only his joyful personality, but his perseverance and positivity in the classroom despite his medical challenges.

In late March, Delgadillo and two other Turlock students were honored during “Every Student Succeeding,” a county program that recognizes students who have succeeded despite challenges.

Delgadillo was born with spina bifida – a birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord – and also has a history of hydrocephalia, which is a medical condition related to spina bifida. He’s endured numerous surgeries throughout his life, including the placement of shunts to assist with the drainage of excess fluids from his brain, and uses braces to help him walk as well as a motorized wheelchair when walking proves too difficult. 

Despite these challenges, Delgadillo has proven to be a success story at Osborn, excelling in academics in both English and Spanish and embracing life with a passion.

For 13 years, the Stanislaus Association of School Administrators charter and the Stanislaus County Office of Education have honored students like Delgadillo who have succeeded against their challenges, gone beyond expectations or simply won the hearts of their teachers and staff through the “Every Student Succeeding” program, which this year was held on March 20.

In addition to Delgadillo, there were 21 other local students from 14 school districts recognized at the event, including another two from Turlock Unified School District – Camia Jade Houston and Olinka Minas Jamalabad.

Jamalabad, a senior at Pitman High School, has proven to be a star pupil since arriving in the country as a refugee from Iran at just 15 years old. She came to America with very limited English skills, but in between caring for her younger brother at home and translating for her parents has worked hard to develop her English. She is currently enrolled in both sophomore and senior English classes to meet her college entrance requirements and is also taking Advanced Placement Environmental Science and Finite Math.

When she’s not trying her hardest in her academics, Jamalabad volunteers at Emanuel Medical Center and hopes to pursue a career in nursing. She is also active on campus in clubs and was Rotary’s Student of the Month last fall.

Jamalabad’s success comes as the end product of commitment and relentless pursuit, and her self-authored, six-word story reads, “Life taught me to always try.”

Brown Elementary School fifth grader Houston is another student in Turlock who has persevered despite her challenges. After she was born in 2007 with Down syndrome, Houston underwent surgery in her infancy and essentially slept through her first six months of life.

Houston began her kindergarten year with a full-time, one-on-one para professional, but through hard work she now only requires two hours of assistance a day thanks to her newfound independence and communication skills.