Operation Graduation: A Fifth Grade Drop-Out Who Overcame the Odds (Tucson, Ariz.)

Date: May 30, 2014

My name is Stephanie Salgado. I’m 22 years old and was born in Bakersfield, California. I was raised in Tucson, Arizona until I was nine. My mom took my older sister and me out of school to go live with my father who had been sent to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico because he was deported by a family member. So, I’m a 5th grade drop-out! I even have a paper from T.U.S.D. saying I’m a drop out! I have overcome the odds and will graduate with a High School diploma from Ombudsman on May 28, 2014

Did I know my life would be so hard because I spent 10 almost 11 years living in Mexico? I tried going to school in Rocky Point at Secondaria Abierta, but it was hard for me to get in. I had no Mexican I.D. and no proof that I went to first grade. Also, not knowing any Spanish at the time made it worse. I didn’t last a day. I never went back. I had my parents teach me math, English, and history, and I had books given to me by a Jehovah’s Witness who spoke a little English.

When I turned 18 I came back to Tucson and tried to go back to school. The lady in the office at Pueblo High School told me no because I was too old. She tried sending me to Job Corps, but it wasn’t a good environment. I didn’t like what I saw and didn’t want to give up living with family and live in a dorm with a stranger, so I went back home to Rocky Point. I thought I would just stay there and work.

One day I bumped into the lady from Jehovah’s Witnesses, Daphne, and she told me to never give up. It was Daphne who told me about Ombudsman. So I came back to Tucson and went to Charter Valencia to ask if I still had a chance to go back to school. Mr. Stouffer told me I could do it if I was willing to work hard and trust the teachers so I signed up and started a new beginning in my life.

Now I’m graduating from Charter Central with a G.P.A. close to a 4.0. I’ve come so far dodging obstacles and put-downs from many people telling me I couldn’t do it, that I was too old. I couldn’t just give up, though. I’m proud to say I did it. I stayed. I conquered my demons myself with the help of Ombudsman.

I’ve come a long way since walking into Charter Valencia three summers ago. I was scared, scared that I would be rejected for being too old. I was scared that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to earn my High School diploma. Since then, I have faced other obstacles in my life but I have overcome all of them with the help of my family and the staff at Ombudsman Valencia and Central. I’ve learned that I am good enough, I am smart enough and I can accomplish great things if I work hard enough.


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