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Mom was in Jail and I Was a Dropout. (How I Found My Motivation)

Christina Martinez


Mom was in jail and I was a drop-out. My greatest struggle was about to be my greatest triumph.  I was only 16 and for the second time, I dropped out of school.  My mom had been thrown in jail temporarily for a month, but now she was arrested again and going away for a long time.  I had no other family and my dad didn’t want me to live with him.

I Realized I Was In Charge of My Personal Growth

I was out of school more often than I was in.  I would miss school for weeks at a time in order to take care of my baby brother and help my mom.  I would go to school for a few days of one week and then go with my mom all over town for a few more weeks.

By the time I was supposed to be classified as a junior, I barely had enough credits to be classified as a sophomore.  The years that are typically the easiest and happiest for most high school students were the hardest—but, ironically, the most rewarding–for me.

I Needed to Set Career Goals

In order to get myself on track to graduate, I re-enrolled at my local high school after the second semester had started.

Since my mom was in jail, I had to forge her signature in order to enroll. Since I was enrolling so late in the semester I was ineligible for credit if I had even a single absence in any class or if I earned anything less than an A in any class.

I worked harder than I ever have in my life to convince my teachers that I wanted to be there.  I wanted to learn and I knew I was capable of achieving an A in every course.  I did it and that meant I was half way to being classified as a junior.

I Had to Get Unstuck and Fast

In the fall, I registered as a junior at my regular high school. I also registered at another high school for night classes. I took extra classes at my regular high school after school until my night school classes started.

Additionally, I entered a School-to-Work program and got a job at Planet Fun where I worked 30 hours a week in order to get the school credit for my work.  I kept this pace for the entire school year.

By the time graduation came, I was still one credit short.  I took 1/2 credit of math and one half credit of English in summer school and graduated in July.

My Personal Transformation

I did this. By myself.  Against all the odds.  And I did it with a 4.0 grade point average. I have never been so proud of myself in my entire life.

I have now completed my Bachelor’s Degree, but this achievement—though a supposedly greater one–doesn’t feel close to the accomplishment that graduating from high school did.

When I was struggling through high school classes, I didn’t know if I was going to make it.  I seriously considered quitting and just testing for my GED.  I don’t know how I kept going, but there was one thought that really motivated me.

How To Get Motivated:  Find Your Why

My baby brother was just two years old and he really meant the world to me.

I didn’t want him to get to high school and think that it would be okay for him to quit. I didn’t want him (or any children that I may have) to ask, “What difference does it make if I drop out?  You did!”   I wanted to set the example for my little brother and my future children to know that it was important to finish school and to do their best.

I wanted my little brother to look up to me and be proud of who I was. I wanted my parents and my sister to be proud of what I did.

Mostly, I wanted to be able to look in the mirror every day and know that I worked for something and accomplished it, that I didn’t quit, and that I didn’t become just another sad statistic.

I Wanted My Real-Life Story to be an Inspiration

I think we define our character in high school, and I wanted to define myself as a success, as a hard worker, and as a role model. I did it.

I have built on that accomplishment now and have overcome many other difficulties because I learned what persistence and drive can accomplish.

Sometimes our greatest accomplishments do come from our greatest struggles.




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