After my sister left our home in Honolulu and came to the mainland in search of her dream, our family lost contact with her and wondered where she was. I came to the mainland with my son, and searched for my sister for two years. I worked as a demolition specialist and head foreman. This provided the money I needed to use in finding her. With the help of the Tacoma Rescue Mission, I found her living on the streets. She was malnourished, sick, and had memory loss. She did not even know who I was.

Medical assistance was provided to her; I found out she was HIV positive. My small one-bedroom home became my sister’s hospice. During this demanding time, I provided the loving care she needed. We had four years together before she passed away. I kept working during this period until my employer filed for bankruptcy and I became unemployed. Jobs were hard to find. It took me almost an entire year to find a new job.

A few months after my sister passed away, I unexpectedly became pregnant. My pregnancy was hard on me. At the end of the second trimester, I passed out at work and was rushed to the hospital. My labor had begun. A premature 2 lb. 3 oz. daughter was born. She remained hospitalized in the neonatal care unit and I underwent surgery for kidney stones.

When I returned to work, my employer placed me on graveyard shift. At this same time my daughter was released from the hospital. She was on a feeding tube, oxygen, an oximeter and required medication shots. I could no longer care for this new infant, my son and continue to work.

It took time for her to develop and grow. “I believe it was because God helped me find a way to stay home and nurture her” that she is now off all of her machines and medicines. We “conquered despite the obstacles.” With my daughter now improved and not requiring all of my attention, I was faced with a future that required changes.

During this time of reflection, I determined it would be best for my family if I went back to school.  I needed to find a career that would benefit both me and my family. I worried that I might be too old, but since I have returned to school, I have felt more alive. My son enrolled in the Northwest Career and Technical High School here on campus too. Since, I have always loved to cook; I followed my passion and enrolled in the culinary arts program. I am learning teamwork as I work in the kitchen with others, and feel pride in my cooking. My life feels right now; I have a vision of where I want to go and what I want to be.

My personal challenges have been difficult, but those same challenges have led me to where I am today; they have given me the determination and emotional skills I need to make my vision a reality. The scholarship I received from the CPTC Foundation helped me have the funding I needed so I could continue to achieve my goal.

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