Students Overcome Adversity

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“My mom passing away changed my whole life around,” Cassady Cantu said. “I had to meet new people and start my life over with a whole new parent who wasn’t my mom.”

Every day students go through life altering events that either motivate them to move forward or go down a self destructive path.

For senior Cass, her life altering event caused her to surround herself with supportive friends, focus on her education and succeed in all extracurriculars.

At the age of 6, after the death of her mother, Cass was forced to move in with an unfamiliar relative in a two bedroom apartment with four other people. Everything was changing right before her eyes but she remembers being aware of the situation. Cass was previously enrolled in IPS before her mother passed and the switch to Warren was overwhelming.

Although Cass was having a hard time adjusting to the loss of her mother, there was a light in moving to Warren Township. The idea of meeting new people and the transition to a different school system no longer scared her as much.

“I was not used to people really knowing each other and their teachers well because at IPS no one was very close or communicative,” Cass said. “It was honestly the best thing that ever happened to me though.”

Over time Cass became accustomed to the Warrior way of life and made life lasting friendships with her classmates and teachers. Her most memorable mentors have always been her teachers, who she often becomes close to and learns from. One teacher in particular left a lasting impression on Cass inspiring her to do missionary work and become more involved in service.

"One of my favorite teachers was Ms. Brittney DeBesse because she was like another teenager,” Cass explained. “She was like my friend, I could go to her and talk about anything and she would let me tell her about my problems at home.”

During the school day, Cass works hard to achieve the best possible grades she can reach. There are times, as is for most students, when Cass wants to give up, but she motivates herself with the idea of a successful future. There is also that burning desire to not repeat the same mistakes that her family members made. Cass has been accepted into Butler, Franklin and IU Bloomington and is excited to be the first in her family to attend college. Cass’ goal is to major in education and minor in English as a new language so that she can teach non-native speakers English and give them the chance to have better opportunities.

“My family gives me motivation, not because they’re motivating, but because I see what I don’t want to be,” Cass said. “Everyday I’m reminded, this is why we go to school and this is why we get a good job and go to college, because I don’t want to turn out like all of my family has.”

Cass is the basic teenager who enjoys Netflix, being a couch potato and spending time with friends. Along with her lazy hobbies, Cass is involved in student council, The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, youth group and Hi-Lites.

“I also consider my ELO at the Early Childhood Center and extracurricular because I get to make connections with all the kids and go to the events that they hold at the preschool,” Cass said.

Educating non-English speakers is a small part of the service that Cass wants to provide. After traveling to Haiti and Thailand for missionary work, it is her dream to travel around the world and help third world countries gain the opportunities that they deserved.

Although she didn’t receive the scholarship, Cass was a candidate for the Lilly Endowment. The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program offers scholarships for full tuition, required fees and other fees for textbooks and equipment. The purpose of the scholarship is to increase the number of Indiana residents getting college degrees. Cass’ counselor and teachers encouraged her to apply for the scholarship because of all the hard work she has put into becoming the compassionate, intelligent and most deserving young woman she is today, despite her financial and personal challenges.

“Her hardships have allowed her the unique opportunity to withstand any storm with her head held high, not allowing for self-pity, but for preservation,” Spanish teacher Amy Moeller said. “She is such an empathetic young woman who has so much to offer others.”