Operation Graduation 2013: Jennifer Mangerie (Peoria, Ariz.)

Date: June 19, 2013

It’s easy to say that I started from the very bottom. I have faced numerous obstacles along the way but even when it seems entirely impossible, there is a top for everyone. I never, in a million years, would have thought I’d be where I am today. After reading this essay, I can honestly say, I doubt you would either. We all have a story to tell and this is by far the biggest part of mine.

I started school at Apollo High School my freshman year. Excited, nervous, but also ready as I could be. I always have been one to give my all and for a few months I did exactly that. Freshman year seemed to be going just my way, until I found out my father was diagnosed with Stage Four Esophageal Cancer. At the age of fifteen, as a normal high school student just trying to make it, my world had been flipped upside down. I had been worn down and my energy wasn’t the same, and neither was I. Some days it didn’t matter to me if I woke up or not. I couldn’t grasp how my life had turned all the way around. I felt as if I was losing everything all at once and it became a struggle to be at school. I started to ask myself, if I can barely make it through single days, how on earth would I make it through the entire year.

With everything falling apart at home, I started having panic attacks at school. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and it became clear it was the worse it had ever been. I eventually couldn’t go to school anymore. It got so terrible. Just when I thought things could not get any worse then they already were, they did. My dad passed away, which was my all time low. After trying to grieve and process it all, which I forever will be dealing with, I gradually started getting healthy again. It wasn’t easy getting there, but I started seeing things in a whole new light. That’s when I was introduced to Ombudsman Charter West. I saw all the benefits it gave me of regaining the credits I lost freshman year, and I saw, not only just a school, but a second chance at success.

Sophomore year I started seeing even more of the chances and opportunities Ombudsman was giving me. I was getting the one on one attention I needed to succeed and regain the credits I lost. School wasn’t such a drag and never too much to handle anymore. It was obvious to everyone around me that, for the first time, I was happy with working hard and I truly enjoyed school. Through the years they have continued helping me achieve my goals and managed to keep such a loving and generous environment. I never once felt uncomfortable asking for help and the teachers never once hesitated to try. Their undivided attention and willingness to help is what pulled me through the harder times.

All in all, my entire journey at Ombudsman has been unforgettable. This school not only helped me find my way again but also, myself again. I’ve learned so much and realize now all of what I am fully capable of. I see myself for everything I am worth. I can’t take all the credit though. Without the help from my inspiring principal, helpful teachers and even my peers I wouldn’t be where I am today. Ombudsman gave me tools for life but also friends for life. For the first time in my entire life I can say I am proud of myself. I’ve never had that and that is where Ombudsman differentiates from every other high school. It changes your life and with hard work it helps build you into everything you could ever want to be.

Photo Credit: GoErie

Categories: Education Resources, Success Stories
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