Photographed: Betsabe Garcia (posing with her T.A.F.E. Shirt and her “Life Savers” prize.
Photographer: Susan S. Silva

As her Mother turned 33, Susan’s mom was stuck celebrating this huge day at the hospital as she had her. Not usual for us Hispanics to celebrate birthdays there, we normally do a huge barbecue-party.. but then and there, that had to do. Her family carried her around like a trophy, noting that she had blue eyes, everyone wanted to see them for themselves. So much for blue eyes, her eyes ended up being green. Four years later, her parents decided they made a mistake having a girl, too complicated to deal with her, she supposes, knowing they couldn't go back in time, they decided to go ahead and have a baby boy. “My two siblings are and have always been my soul, I would do anything for them,” she says. Throughout her “kid days,'' she says, everyday seemed to pass by like a flash, a blur. Before she knew it, she was 5 years old attending Perez Elementary, wishing she could take Bunny God (She used to think God was a white life-size bunny with a big beard) to Show and Tell,  and prove to everyone he exists. Being five brought many revelations to her and her imagination, but especially, separated her from her best friend. Due to the lack of security in the neighborhood, she had to leave. The last memory she had of her engraved in her mind was her holding her mom’s hand while they walked to the office to sign her out. Susan being naive, she still came over to her house to ask for her but no good news. She even tried telling herself she was probably on a long trip, and she fell for it every time, so she kept asking everyday. “How couldn’t I? I sang all my made up songs with her, I did my first cartwheel with her, which at the time was only me crouching and moving my arms to another direction. I had to keep insisting...but… one day I just gave up.” She said. She made new friends, and she moved on. Little did she know that six years later, as she attended Ann Richards Middle School, she would come back. They picked it up where they left off, and they continued being best friends; she became her go-to person as Susan had conflicts.  As Susan entered high school though, she says she could feel all the pieces of advice that her best friend had ever given her about life, fall down on her as she experienced her own teenage moments. She didn’t warn Susan about it, maybe cause she couldn’t, they were going through the same. From being bullied, to heartbreaks, to any other little thing that affected Susan emotionally, she felt it all. Sophomore year, she says, was the year she made a decision. She went through such a mental-turmoil, she couldn’t focus. Until one day… she had to tell herself “They’re just bad days, and if bad exists, that means good does, too. You need to focus on your career path; becoming a teacher. Teach every student what you wish you knew when you were their age. Teach people that there is such thing as ‘teachers who care’ and that’ll be me. Ever since, the days that pass by have been pleasant. Something to hold onto as I continue this journey called Life, especially if I want to be an example to others.”

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