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The city was small, calm, and welcoming

As a child, I lived in Sierra Vista, AZ. The city was small, calm, and welcoming. I had countless friends and took part in several community activities, most of which took place at the city park. My mother was a Girl Scout troop leader. I am quite fond of these memories.

In elementary school, we had several visitors, one of which sticks in my mind. He was an officer for the police department and came in to teach his D.A.R.E. program. He taught us the dangers of drug abuse and gangs. He taught us how to recognize dangerous situations and steer clear of them. The reason this stands out so much is because the things he was warning us about, weren’t things you saw in Sierra Vista.

Now that I am an adult I realize the importance of his teachings. He wasn’t saying Sierra Vista was a bad place. He was saying, “These things exist, be careful”. As I entered junior high, my family moved to New Mexico. This was a complete culture shock for me. I began to see things I had only ever heard of before. I smelt marijuana for the first time, although I didn’t know what it was at the time. I remember thinking back to the D.A.R.E. classes. This is when I began using the information that police officer had taught us. I stayed away from the places that made me feel uneasy, and I just said “no”.

Although I never had trouble with drugs or gangs, life was rough outside of Arizona. I was a teenage mother. I was a high school drop out. I was in a violent marriage for a couple of years. I worked a low paying job. For a while I couldn’t imagine myself ever having a college education, but things were about to change.

In the summer of 2004, I moved back to Arizona. Something inside me told me Arizona is where I needed to be. This time I chose Tucson. I had big hopes and dreams and knew I would need a big city to fulfill them.  I began pursuing a college education with a very ambitious goal; I wanted to be a doctor. I will be finishing my Associate’s degree this fall and have transferred up to NAU to utilize their distance learning program to attain my Bachelor’s in Science. Afterwards, I plan to transfer back down here to Tucson and attend the University of Arizona, College of Medicine. In the mean time, I work fulltime managing a medical practice. I am involved with a wonderful man and have 3 children. So you see, life in Arizona is wonderful. It’s full of opportunities.