The Phoenix Award was presented to seniors Jack Lin and Abigail Garcia for overcoming personal and academic struggles.
Born in China, Lin has been in the United States for five years. When he began attending school, he struggled with adapting to American culture and the English language. Along with his shyness, physical impediment, and Cerebral Palsy, communicating with others proved difficult. However, with the help and encouragement of friends and teachers, especially in times when he felt frustrated, Lin is now able to have conversations, make lots of friends, and make himself understood.
“I wish [for] my English to get better,” Lin said. “If my English gets better, maybe I can find a job and I can relieve some family stress and stop my family from worrying too much.”
At the start of freshman year, Garcia had good grades and had set high expectations for herself. That all changed on the last week of school when she found out about the death of her cousin. Her grades began to slip and she was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and psychotic disorders and prescribed antidepressants. Garcia was too afraid to open up and was admitted to four different hospitals over the course of four months. She found the Gateway to Success program and decided to get her own therapist. From there, she has managed to bring her grades up to a 3.0 and get a stable job as a waitress.
“I just wanted people to know that there are times where you hit rock bottom and it’s not easy, but through hard work and determination, you can get yourself out of any situation,” Garcia said.
Lin and Garcia are now looking ahead to the future, leaving the obstacles behind them.