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She Was Barely Coming Down From The Excitement Of Getting Into Her Top Choice In University When She Discovered She Was Pregnant

Natalie Ruiz has crossed the stage at the University of California, Berkeley but her story is not the typical college time story. The 25-year-old Latina discovered that she was pregnant just three weeks into her first semester in college and, for a moment, she thought her dreams of graduating college were dashed. Ruiz talked to mitú about how she pushed forward with her dreams with the help of the unexpected village of people that came together to help her graduate from UC Berkeley with a 3.97 GPA.

For Natalie Ruiz, the dream of finally being accepted to UC Berkeley was almost derailed by an unplanned pregnancy.

Natalie Ruiz / Facebook

“My absolute first thought was that my father was going to be furious, that I’d not just let him down but brought shame to him and my family,” Ruiz admitted to mitú. “I was coming down from the excitement of even getting into Berkeley, which was my number one choice that had rejected me as a freshman and accepted me as a transfer. I felt like I had finally achieved something really great by being accepted to UC Berkeley and then all of a sudden I had tarnished it.”

But, on her own accord, Ruiz decided to push forward and make sure she would one day walk across that stage to her family and friends cheering her on.

Courtesy of Natalie Ruiz

Ruiz told mitú that she put her energy into an unhealthy form of motivation by telling herself that she had no more room for failure. She tried her best to just immerse herself in her classes so that she could honor the sacrifices of her farm working abuelito. Then Ruiz began to use her real-life experience to find what interested her in her studies. As a young mother who would go to the stores late at night to use WIC stamps so no one would see, Ruiz began to study more sociology to help her make sense of her situation.

But just six weeks after having her baby, Ruiz became really ill and discovered that she has a serious case of pancreatitis that had gone undetected during her pregnancy. This left her in the hospital for a month and recovering from surgery for six months.

Natalie Ruiz / Facebook

“In the time after I had my daughter, I went into the emergency room for a fifth time after many incidents of pain that were unexplained,” Ruiz told mitú about her post-pregnancy health scare that left her in the hospital for six months. “I was diagnosed with having severe necrotizing pancreatitis and what that meant was that the pancreatitis was getting so bad that it was essentially dying and infecting and cutting off the function of my organs, specifically my pancreas as well as my gallbladder and my spleen.”

During her six-month recovery, Ruiz told mitú that a village of people suddenly came together to help her take care of her baby.

Courtesy of Natalie Ruiz

Ruiz says that over the six months in the hospital there were groups of people helping her make it through. She was in constant contact with her professors as she insisted in staying enrolled because she needed the financial aid to pay rent, which you can still do even if you are in the hospital. But what really touched her was the organizing that her friends and family executed to make sure that her child was taken care of. Calendars were marked to keep at least one person with Ruiz and another with her baby at all times. There were also women who donated their own breast milk so that her then-6-week-old baby was able to continue feeding on breast milk the entire six months she was in the hospital. Ruiz recognizes that if any part of the support that grew around her was not there, their spontaneous health care center would have fallen apart.

But the person she thanks the most is her partner and father of her child.

Natalie Ruiz / Facebook

“I have so much respect for the many of my friends who are single mothers, who are parents on their own, because I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my partner,” Ruiz told mitú. “I mean that in terms of helping me balance school with parenting, helping me to maintain my mental health during the stress. The emotional support.”

Ruiz says that she was lucky to be a student at UC Berkeley during her pregnancy and young motherhood.

Matt Ha

“I am extremely fortunate to have been at UC Berkeley, where the resources available for students with children are far more generous than other universities. These resources include a student-parent grant which was added to my financial aid package,” Ruiz told mitú. “I was the recipient of a few other truly great scholarships including the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award, as well as the New Leaders Scholarship. Between these supports, as well as family support, I feel extremely privileged to have been able to finance my educational dreams.”

Now that she is a brand new college graduate, Ruiz is looking for work that will make it possible for her to help other people who are going through what she went through.

Courtesy of Natalie Ruiz

The 25-year-old graduate would like to work in social policy research. Specifically, she wants to “advocate on behalf of poor families in California” in order to better inform lawmakers about the social impact their legislation has on poor families.

“If [education] is your dream, do not give up,” Ruiz tells young mothers about juggling a baby and school.

UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small

But Ruiz does make a point to say that if you are a young mother or pregnant in college, you might have to advocate for yourself until things change. Ruiz credits her university’s procedures and resources to young mothers before her who advocated for the kind of services from which she benefited. If it wasn’t for the student parents before her, Ruiz acknowledges that her own journey navigating motherhood and college would have been much tougher. Above all else, Ruiz says you cannot and should not apologize for being pregnant or a parent. She argues that by apologizing you are making harder for universities to create the necessary spaces to help future student parents.

Congratulations, Natalie!

Matt Ha

May you have all the future successes you have dreamed of.


READ: This Latina Blamed Her Parents For Her Lack Of Education When She Was A Teen, Now She Is Graduating From UC Berkeley And Thanking Them

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Naya Rivera’s Dad Says ‘Glee’ Showrunner Ryan Murphy Lied About Setting Up a College Fund for Her Son, Josey

Entertainment

Naya Rivera’s Dad Says ‘Glee’ Showrunner Ryan Murphy Lied About Setting Up a College Fund for Her Son, Josey

Photos via Getty Images

Months after Naya Rivera’s untimely passing, her family is still struggling to cope with the aftermath of her death. Although there was an outpouring of well-wishes and condolences after Rivera’s tragic drowning, many people have unfortunately moved on. But Rivera’s family is still coping.

On Tuesday, Naya Rivera’s father, George Rivera, slammed “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy for making “broken promises” to Rivera’s son, Josey.

Last July, Murphy pledged to set up a college fund for Josey. In a statement, Murphy said: ““Our hearts go out to her family, especially her mom, Yolanda, who was a big part of the Glee family, and her son Josey. The three of us are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all.”

But since then, George Rivera has vented his frustration at the media mogul via Twitter. In response to a July, 2020 tweet that praised Ryan Murphy for his generosity, George Rivera wrote: “Everyone needs to know what Ryan Murphy really did … or didn’t do !!! I’m about to blow up this story …. and make sure he’s knows that I know ….”

In subsequent tweets, George Rivera accused Ryan Murphy both of faking his grief over Naya’s death and lying about setting up a college fund for Josey.

“When you are part of the Hollywood elite, some people treat others as they are “less than” …. vocalize a good game , but it’s as shallow as the sets on stage , that they create,” Rivera wrote. “Promises made in public, only to fade with time and excuses …. even in a unexplainable tragedy …”

Soon enough, fans of Naya Rivera began to engage with George Rivera, asking him to disclose what happened behind the scenes. One zealous fan wrote “Let it out, G. Let it out,” to which Rivera responded, “Broken Promises….. fake outrage …. hollow gestures ….. no phone call.”

George Rivera’s accusations against Ryan Murphy shocked many fans who had thought that her son would be taken care of by the ultra-successful producer.

Looking for clarification, one fan asked, “Did they never open the trust fund for josey? omg,” to which George responded, “Hahaaaa.” His response the initial veiled accusation.

In response to George’s accusations, many “Glee” fans rallied around the grieving father. “If you have anything else please do share,” wrote one Naya Rivera fan account. “We’re going to listen and make sure you have the platform to share whatever that awful man said and did to you and your family, we’re with you.”

Ryan Murphy quickly took to Twitter to address the allegations and defend himself–albeit vaguely.

“Myself, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan have committed to create a college fund for Naya Rivera’s child Josey through the Naya Rivera Estate Trust,” Murphy wrote. “We have been in repeated conversations with the appropriate executors of her estate.”

Based on Murphy’s use of the word “committed”, it does, indeed, sound like he hasn’t actually started the fund yet. We hope he keeps his promise and starts that very soon.

Regardless, we’re glad that George Rivera was brave enough to call out Hollywood power players that were letting his family down.

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This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

Things That Matter

This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

Photo via Facebook/Miguel de la Rosa

Once in a while, a story comes along that makes you realize that the phrase “you can do anything you put your mind to”, isn’t just an old cliche. One California Latino man proved that the phrase has some truth behind it.

62-year-old Joseph Valadez just graduated with honors from Cal State Long Beach after spending the half of his adult life behind bars.

Valadez’s story went viral when one of his fellow students tweeted about the California Latino man’s incredible story. “This man accomplished something incredible AND took the coldest pic of 2021,” said that caption.

The post is a screenshot of a Facebook post Valadez wrote, accompanied by some stunning graduation photos of the 62-year-old.

“I finished my last two semester at Long Beach on the ‘President’s Honor List’ for making straight As,” wrote Valadez on the CSULB alumni Facebook group. “Was also on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.67. Not bad for someone who spent half his adult life in prison.”

“There’s a misconception about guys like me that I want to break,” he added. “If I can do it, anyone can.”

Since the picture went viral, Valadez opened up about the journey that took him from rock bottom to where he is now.

Like many people in the prison system, addiction fueled Valadez’s life of crime. In an interview with Long Beach Post, he revealed that he began using heroine when he first joined the army at the age of 18.

“All the crimes I did were related to trying to get drugs, selling drugs,” the California Latino man told the Long Beach Post. He would spend 38 years of his life battling addiction.

After that, his life spiraled into a cycle of addiction, homelessness, violence, and crime. In total, Valadez has been to prison 40 times. He has spent more than 30 years behind bars.

Valadez finally decided to change his life in his 50s, when he realized that if he kept living this way, he would die soon.

In 2013, Valadez checked into an adult rehab facility. He stayed there for a year while he got clean. Soon after, he enrolled in Orange Coast Community College before ultimately transferring to Cal State Long Beach. In total, it took six years of challenging coursework for him to graduate. But from the look of pride in Valadez’s face, it was worth it.

Throughout his journey in the educational system, however, Valadez has discovered all the ways that the system failed him. Despite getting good grades in high school, teachers didn’t suggest college as an option for him. Instead, they suggested he pursue landscaping or construction. Similarly, when Valadez bounced in and out of jail due to his addiction, no one ever suggested rehab as a way for him to break the cycle.

Now, Valadez wants to take the lessons he learned and give back to his community.

At CSULB, Valadez excelled in sociology, and was interested in exploring how the criminal justice system is set up to target people of color. “I know a little bit about that subject because I lived it,” he said. “I wanted to understand the ‘why?’.” As of now, he is waiting to see if he gets accepted into CSULB’s Social Work masters program.

Valadez wants to use his new degree to help young kids who are at-risk of being failed by the system, like he was. “I’m going to inspire somebody, I’m going to motivate somebody, I’m going to give somebody hope,” he said. “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

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