Annette Rodriguez (4th Quarter, 2007)

4th Quarter, 2007
Liberal Arts Scholarship Winner
Annette Rodriguez

“I look to use my education and give back to the community. I wish to be involved with programs for all kids that need help. I can help them with art, writing, poetry. These tools will help release our children by form of expression. This scholarship will not only help me. It will help me help other’s in the long run.”

A Portion of Annette’s Winning Essay:

Annette Rodriguez

Every morning of every day of every year I look into my past and I pray that God will grant me peace of mind. Random images of all the inhumane physical and mental abuse experienced flashes in and out of my head but finds a way to linger in my eyes, ears, and heart. Following the pain are the flashing happy images of divine bliss. These images of happiness are harder to remember but when I grab a hold of what make the heart cry out of joy the feeling of a fulfilled life is overwhelming. So with every time I choose to use my life as a reference I must re-educate myself to appreciate the hardships more than the spoils of life.

Hardships such as attaining a college education have been one of the most difficult. Struggling with almost no supervision the beliefs of the real street world came at the age of 12-13. But when I moved to San Jose I realized that I knew nothing of the street life until the age of 15. As I went through this street education I stayed in school and graduated high school with my class.

After high school I started De Anza College and I was then able to dedicate myself to education and athletics because my parents were still helping financially. I enjoyed having little trouble in life by only worrying about the simple things but it did not stay simple, it got complicated. Complications happen when one is going through their adolescent stage with almost no guidance.

While finding a self-identity one is forced to raise themselves and look for the love that can fill the gaping in one’s heart. My identity would have never been fully developed had it not been for this life of a street and college education. I would not tell our youth to go and seek this street life but I would tell them to introduce themselves to the life a bit. This way they will have a better understanding of humanity. That is the reason that people of a schooled background choose to help those with no or little schooling. By joining organizations that provide this education it introduces the educated to those uneducated and teaches not just one culture but it teaches all that are involved.

I have had first hand experience of the rough life as I stayed in school. As I went on with my book education at De Anza College I would become homeless on and off starting between the ages of 18-19. I had become homeless for many reasons through my own fault and with some fault lying on the heads of my loved one’s.

I will spare the read all the details but I will explain how the harsh experiences presented could have never been conquered without the pursuit of my college education. These events may not be in chronological order as it is presented. I was always told not to get involved with gangs but I fell astray. I found a person with a family that would give me love and guidance. They got into trouble but saw that I had a better chance than they did to make something of my self in the legit world so they keep me out of most of their illegitimate business. I got lucky to find gangsters that would tell me to stay in school. They seemed to be at awe because I had the chance that they would never have. They made me feel like a loser for not appreciating the fact that my dreams not like all dreams could be obtained.

As these cycles of the street life go they were born into street life and they will most likely die in the street life. We hear all evil, see all evil, and speak of all evil.

Unfortunately, most of my old friends are in prison, dead, or killing themselves slowly with drug addiction. I had always said that the fastest way to die is to kill yourself and that’s that. After seeing some of what the streets had to offer I saw that school was the way out of the life that I thought I wanted. School continued to help me deal with a lot of things.

For example, living with a manic depressive bi-polar mother gave me a look at how loving but cruel life can be. She has kicked me out countless times for reasons such as drug addiction, religious differences, a step father, etc. But mostly she would say I am complicating things and she would get tired of the sight of me. My mother’s husband would hide food from me pointing out the foods that were for them and not for me. Then she would tell me people of different religions could not stay in the same house. This confused me because she raised me Catholic and she had recently become new born Christian. Since she could not convert me she thought it better to tell me that I could not stay. What other choice does one have but to become homeless. After all, might as well when you are put down and not given food everyday. I was perplexed as to why she would try to get me back to old habits by kicking me out when I was doing so well picking myself up from the hole I created.

This is when I realized that she was my trigger. She was the trigger to the gun that can end all hope and faith in life. But what kept this hope and faith alive was the assurance that with a college education I would break the cycle. I would stay in school because it gave me a home with some people that were educated and had open minds. People there treated me as a human as a person worth having around.

My education has taught me not to feel pity for myself as others have it harder. I also learned to fight back with sophistication. I learned to be passive when needed. I have an appreciation for those in need of help or guidance because without those people I would have learned nothing. I learned that everyone has it tough one way or another.

I realized this when I stepped into a house occupied by my friend and her clinically insane mother. This woman and my friend took me in off the streets for a month or two. The mother was a kind woman but terrified me because of the whaling at night. Her soul was in great pain. All night I would hear her laughing but crying at the same time while clapping her hands and rocking back and forth. When she was not doing this she would quietly talk to herself (or her imaginary boyfriend) or continuously beat her head against the wall. I would sleep with a knife under my pillow because I was scared that she would come in because she would try to open the door but I locked it. So the door knob would jiggle for a couple minutes and I hoped to God that the door would stay locked. This poor woman ended up stabbing herself to death.

Hearing, seeing, and experiencing this not only disturbs me but helps me come to the conclusion that I had it easier than other’s and I was grateful once again for my hard life. My cognitive thinking has been matured and now allows me to cope with Things experienced, seen, and heard. If I did not stay in De Anza College while living this life I would not be able to understand why we as humans treat each other so rudely when one knows nothing about the other person or the life they lived.

With my education I can take every bit of knowledge form the books and apply it to my street life. Luckily, I am still alive to write only a small portion of my story and I can honestly say that without college and soccer to look forward to I would most positively be in prison or dead. Fortunately, this is the path I choose with the many paths given to me by God.

Copyright 2007, All rights reserved.

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