From Trauma to Transformation
Methodist Children’s Home resident Yesenia Laresâ€Martinez has already overcome more obstacles than most adults face in a lifetime. She is the face of the success story that can follow when Methodists “Invest in the Young,” as the Texas Annual Conference purposes to do in a variety of ways.
By winning the 2013 Student of the Year award from the Coalition for Residential Education (CORE), she is being recognized for demonstrating personal growth, achievement and leadership. And her story is powerful.
Yesenia arrived at Methodist Children’s Home in November 2009, coming from a background of trauma and emotional isolation. She decided to seek placement at MCH to get the support and safety she desired. Yesenia was caring for her younger siblings while trying to maintain A’s in school. She was very guarded and did not have faith or trust in adults.
Once settled in the home, she enrolled in advanced placement classes at AJ Moore Academy but the family challenges continued. In 2011, Yesenia’s 6â€yearâ€old nephew was diagnosed with cancer and began receiving chemotherapy treatments. She spent countless hours with him, and the experience solidified her goal to pursue a career in pediatric health care. After being recognized three years in a row as an Outstanding Academic Achiever, she joined the JROTC program and was selected as the Captain of PT. She attended a special camp in New Mexico where she further developed leadership skills. In JROTC, she received 11 awards including Cadet of the Year and a $300 scholarship from the Association from the United States Army.
She experienced another significant challenge when AJ Moore Academy announced in 2012 that it would be closing and she would have to relocate to another high school her senior year. She began her senior year at University High School in August 2012 and has continued to excel academically. She is currently ranked in the top five of her senior class. Yesenia has been accepted to five universities in Texas, and she plans to attend the University of Texas as a Biology major in the fall of 2013.
The criteria behind her recent award are obvious. Yesenia maintained a steady focus on her academic goals and earned certification as a Certified Nurses Aid and currently completes rotations in local nursing homes and hospitals. She is currently a member of the Health Occupations Student Association at her high school.
As if studying was not enough of a challenge, Yesenia has maintained partâ€time employment off campus. She has been a member of the Student Leadership Council at MCH and participated in extraâ€curricular activities such as soccer in a local city league. She serves the community by doing volunteer work on a monthly basis at places such as a local shelter for victims of domestic violence, Meals on Wheels, local nursing homes, and special events such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Yesenia’s unit manager, Erica Reyesâ€Rosas, who nominated her for the award says, “Yesenia means so much to me. She has given me hope to watch her and her resilience in everything she has overcome in these last four years. She inspires me to work harder in building relationships with other students who have come from backgrounds similar to hers.”
“I’ll be flying for the first time to receive my award from the Coalition for Residential Education at a conference in California and I’m very excited that my hard work has led me to this once in a lifetime opportunity!” she says.
Methodist Children’s Home provides services to more than 1,400 children and youth daily through residential care, foster care and other services. The Board consists of leaders from several conferences -- including the Texas Conference -- from across Texas and New Mexico.