Student has new lease on life

October 21, 2019
It was not long ago that Marbella Cruz was looking for ways to end her life. “I would always say I’m not going to make it to 17,” Marbella said. “I will die before 17. I didn’t want to live.” The severe battles with depression and anxiety stemmed from an early childhood tragedy. Marbella tried to hide her emotions from friends and family. She says she felt completely alone which eventually led to self-harm. “She was cutting herself,” her father, Salvador, said through an interpreter. “And when she would go to the bathroom, we would have to pay attention because I figured she might cut herself. I didn’t know. It was a really difficult time.” Marbella described the cutting as an addiction that controlled her life. “The cutting was bad,” Marbella said. “My scars will never go away. They were too deep … I look at them and I think that if I would have just gone a little deeper, maybe I wouldn’t be here where I am now.” Marbella’s actions not only affected her immediate family but also her classmates at Calexico Academy. “Those stories not only impact families but they impact the staff in the classroom,” Imperial County Office of Education Senior Director Monalisa Vitela said. “The kids. The students that we serve. Her friends. Her peers. So it’s a very difficult time for everyone.” After multiple suicide attempts, Marbella sought help from a therapist. She worked through her emotions and found a safe outlet in education.  When Marbella learned about a medical assistant college course in El Centro, she jumped at the opportunity. “I’ve always liked school a lot,” she said. “I like challenges. So I feel like that motivated me more.” She commuted 25 minutes each way via public transportation and walked 1/4 of a mile to her classes. “It was challenging,” Marbella said. “It’s a college class. It helped me a lot because it was a challenge. It kept me busy. Kept my mind busy.” Marbella not only passed the national medical assistant exam, she also passed national exams in EKG and phlebotomy. She already has her sights set on top medical schools like Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins in hopes of one day becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. Quite the feat for a young woman who did not think she would live to see her 17th birthday. “I just don’t know that words can describe the way that you feel when you see someone that could have taken their life, and here they are where they’ve blossomed into this beautiful flower,” Vitela said. “It’s overwhelming.”
Marbella Cruz, who lives with depression and anxiety, and plans to go to medical school one day.

© 2019 Association of California School Administrators