The start of Raymond Fernandez’s life was not easy but if it taught him anything it is that even during hard times there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Raymond was born to drug addicted parents. His father was never in the picture and his mother raised him in a home with other addicts. At just five years old he was rushed to the hospital with extreme sugar levels. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Doctors told his mother if she did not straighten up, she would lose her son. After 15 years of addiction, she decided to make a serious change.
“I think becoming a diabetic at the age of five, it really changed her outlook,” Raymond said. “If I had closed my eyes that night I would have been gone. That was the time, right there and then, my mom cried and decided drugs are not what she wanted to do.”
BACK TO SCHOOL
As Raymond grew up his mom stayed sober and became his rock and his biggest supporter.
When he started going to school, she married, and the relationship caused some tension in the home. During his sophomore year, Raymond decided to drop out of high school and move out of his home.
“I ended up dropping out saying I’m done, I don’t want to do school anymore,” he said. “I wasn’t getting anywhere in life. I couldn’t protect my mom. I dropped out and took off.”
For a few years, Raymond struggled to make ends meet but his love for his mother and his desire to do better drew him back.
“I had a flashback of my mom and everyone,” he said. “My brother was the only one of her kids that actually graduated. I thought I want to do more with my life. I want to show people that I’m more than just sitting on the couch and not doing anything. I wanted to do better for myself, so I chose to go back.”
Raymond had always pictured himself in the medical field in some way. A friend graduated from UEI College in Phoenix and recommended the school. Raymond decided to take a chance and enroll in the Medical Assistant Program.
‘I AM NOT A WEAK PERSON’
“Going back to school was one of my biggest accomplishments,” Raymond said. “I suffered a lot growing up, thinking I wasn’t going to get anywhere but it was a fast-paced thing. Everything happened so fast and ended so quick.”
Raymond quickly became dedicated to his studies. Throughout the program he maintained a 4.0 GPA and he earned his high school diploma in just six months.
“I almost dropped out like five times because of how stressful it was,” he admitted. “I wasn’t making any money, but I was going to school. I sat down with myself and prayed and prayed and prayed and decided I needed to finish this. It would get my career going. Every time I looked around to give up, I saw the people who were watching me the whole time and pushing me. I thought to myself, why give up now? I’m almost done. If I give up it will just show I’m weak and I am not a weak person.”
“He has a wonderful personality,” said Josephine Camacho, Raymond’s instructor. “He is a people person. He loves helping people. He has compassion to do so. From the time I spent with him, I was very impressed. He’s going to be a great medical assistant. He is just overall a great person.”
‘I DID NOT GIVE UP’
Near the end of his program, Raymond hit another hurdle. While driving one night, another car ran him off the road. He hit six metal poles, destroying the car he had worked so hard to earn. Miraculously, Raymond walked away from the crash with only scrapes and bruises but to him, the loss of his car while he was so close to finishing his externship was devastating.
His family stepped up to support him and help him through. With their assistance he was able to finish his externship and graduate.
At his graduation, Raymond was recognized as a Student of Distinction. His mother and family were there to cheer him on.
“It felt like the day my mom changed her life for me. It was a really strong moment in my life,” he said. “It made me feel better about who I am today and the reasons I did not give up. It shows I can do anything I’m motivated to do and accept any challenges that come my way. As many battles as you go through, don’t ever give up. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”