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Challenges don't stop North Mason graduate

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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High school can seem like a different world for some students, but for Luisa Garcia, adjusting to North Mason High School presented a whole new set of challenges.

In addition to homework, the teenager also had to learn to deal with language barriers and motherhood.

Garcia, now 19, who graduated from high school with the rest of the senior class on June 17, is from Guatemala.

Her parents moved to the United States 15 years ago. When she was 8 years old, Garcia's life changed drastically when she joined her parents in the U.S.; she started second grade in a new country.

The Garcia family moved to Belfair six years ago.

In addition to learning the ropes at a new school, Garcia was learning a new language and culture.

Then, at age 14, Garcia's life changed drastically again — she found out she was pregnant.

Garcia said she didn't expect to get pregnant, but that she was determined to overcome the challenge.

"It was very difficult," she said. "But I tried to stay in school. I tried to do my best."

Garcia said homework was the hardest part of high school, because after she came home from school, she also had to take care of her daughter, Vanessa.

Vanessa is now 4 years old and Garcia said she's happy to have the little girl in her life.

"I want to tell other girls out there — being a teen mom is not difficult; you can do it," she said, adding that staying in school was one of the most important parts of her success as a teenage mother.

After high school, Garcia said, she wanted to become a nurse. She said biology, anatomy and physiology were her favorite classes during high school, and inspired her to pursue a career in the medical field.

"I saw nurses in Guatemala and how hard they worked," Garcia said. "I saw them working there and here, and I love how much they help people."

She plans to take a five-week certified nursing assistant course in Port Orchard this summer before taking courses at Olympic College to become a midwife.

"I want to thank my dad, Ricardo, and my mom, Elsa, for helping me," Garcia said, adding that their support had been a large factor in her success.

"I saw nurses in Guatemala and how hard they worked. I saw them working there and here, and I love how much they help people."

Luisa Garcia, North Mason High School graduate

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Original Publication Date: June 23, 2016

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