Dina and Her Journey

Aug 19, 2021

StandUp for Kids – Orange County 

As Dina approaches the end of her time in high school, she can’t help but reflect on a journey that has seen her overcome so much. To her admittance, the eighteen-year-old StandUp for Kids – Orange County youth who lives doubled up in an apartment, has undoubtedly taken an unconventional path to get to her current point.

Up until high school, Dina lived an everyday life as a first-generation American and the oldest sibling of four children. However, her life and academic trajectory would be upended by a confounding illness that would give Dina headaches and severely weaken her ability to use her arms and legs.

The severity and significance of this illness would make it challenging for Dina to ever find her footing in high school. Between moving schools on multiple occasions, a trip to the ICU at the hospital, and losing her course credits, things were indeed not easy for her.

Along with not being able to have a typical high school life, Dina mentally found herself in a difficult place because of the confusion over what was happening to her. On the one hand, her doctor had told her that the issue was psychological, while numerous therapists believed there was something wrong physically.

“I couldn’t trust myself at all. The doctors were saying one thing but then the therapist was saying another,” says Dina.

The illness would stay with her for over three years until it began to dissipate slowly and no longer trouble Dina as much. Her recovery was a bit slow for her liking as she still would suffer from persistent symptoms and be forced to go to the ER a few times a week. However, Dina’s triumph over the illness meant that she could finally go back to living her life.

Dina’s life would change for the better when she was introduced to StandUp for Kids – Orange County at an Anaheim community center. She had been part of an entrepreneurship program at the center led by StandUp for Kids that her mother had signed her up for.

Although Dina’s introduction to StandUp for Kids was a bit accidental, she has zero regrets over her time with us. Dina appreciates every moment that she has shared with our staff and is grateful for the presence that StandUp for Kids holds in her life.

“I honestly think StandUp for Kids are lifesavers because they’ve helped me in every aspect that you can think of. Whoever it is, they’re going to be there for you. StandUp for Kids is kind of like a second family,” says Dina.

Barring any setbacks, Dina hopes to graduate from high school in October. From then on, she hopes to attend college and later become a front-end social worker. Her interest in such a career comes from her desire to give back and help those in less fortunate positions.

“Some kids don’t have it easy. I want to help make it easier for them.”

StandUp for Kids is proud of the perseverance of Dina and the many youths that come through our program. If you are inspired by this story and want to help support youth like Dina, please consider volunteering. You can learn more about current opportunities here.