by Sherry Hu and Christina Arce
SAN MATEO (KPIX 5) — In science experiments, answers can sometimes be elusive. As Students Rising Above scholar Destini Rodriguez has discovered, the same can be said of life.
“Throughout elementary school, it was hard knowing that one of my parents didn’t love me enough to choose me,” said Destini, emotionally recalling her early childhood. “I wanted a mom, I wanted a dad, and I wanted it to be perfect.”
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Because both her parents struggled with drugs, Destini lived with relatives until she was seven years old. Once reunited with her mother, they moved to a recovery house, a homeless shelter – then, finally – an apartment.
Those traumatic early years fueled Destini’s motivation. “I just feel all that chaos just made me want to be better than what I had grown up with,” she explained.
By the time she was in middle school, Destini was focused – on grades, sports and community service.
Now, she is set to be the first in her family to graduate from college. “College represents something like a successful future,” she said. “No one is going to push you but yourself and, yeah, people will support you, but you have to find it within yourself, that that’s what you want to do.”
The Aragon High School senior even got a job at the local Whole Foods. She recently won Team Member of the month and has been given many acknowledgement awards for excellent customer service.
Destini has also been saving half of every paycheck she receives. “I didn’t think I was going to get scholarships,” she explained. “I didn’t think I qualified for financial aid. I feared it.”
Destini’s dream is to become a teacher; to guide other students the way her own teacher supported her. “She really does have this vision for what she wants life to be like and she believes there can be a life different from what she has,” said her biotech teacher, Katie Ward. “It hasn’t squashed hope from her.”
The thought of being the person that others can turn to for help continues to drive Destini. “More of me wanting to help others pushes me the most.”