This student has shown the many people who did not believe in him that he would graduate. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of four months, he was never expected to live a long life but, nevertheless, has been able to live this far and graduate. These past few years, his health began to deteriorate, which was harrowing for him and his family and made school attendance very difficult. Despite the support of Ms. Gruwell and the Freedom Writers, he had to be home schooled, while still attending Freedom Writers events.
This student sees graduating, which other people might consider an ordinary step in life, as a truly extraordinary feat. He takes nothing for granted, as he remains constantly aware of the fact that he is lucky to be alive. His dedication to the Freedom Writers is all the more impressive, as it shows that his illness has not made him self-centered but, rather, glad to be involved in a communal project.
In June 1997, he received a double lung transplant, for which he had waited two years. He was happy and not afraid of it being a failure, because he had gotten used to the idea that it might not work. However, he soon got better and was able to attend school again, where he received the Most Inspiring Student Award and a scholarship for college.
This student’s attitude toward adversity is one of calm acceptance, as he is deeply aware of the constant possibility of death. Yet instead of being content with the mere fact of living, he strives to work hard and engage passionately with school and learning.