TULALIP — Marysville Mountain View High School senior Anita Bradford-Diaz, 17, is a former dropout. Today, she’s holding down a full-time job while taking extra classes in her quest to earn a diploma on time.
Question: Have you always gone to Mountain View?
Answer: No, I came in February. I went to (Marysville Pilchuck) my first semester, and before that I went to (Scriber Lake near) Mountlake Terrace for my freshman and sophomore years. … I lived with my grandmother from second grade to sophomore year. And then I moved in with my dad. I had never lived with my dad until the past two years, so it’s a big change. It’s going good.
Q: What made you choose to switch to Mountain View?
A: When I was in Terrace … I dropped out of school for awhile — I just didn’t go. And then I moved in with my dad, and my dad was more on top of it. Like, “You are going to go to school.” My grades were OK, like D’s. Which is not good, but not failing. Then I started thinking about my credits… So I came here. I just needed to catch up on my credits. At MP, I loved the big environment. Here it’s more quiet. It’s a lot harder, but you get things done if you want them done.
Q: What was the turning point for you?
A: When I moved in with my dad, I thought, dang, I want to graduate. I don’t want to spend an extra year. I want to walk. That’s my goal. I go to everybody in my family’s graduation, and I want them to go to mine. It’s a really big thing for me. Both my parents didn’t graduate. My mom had me when she was 14 and dropped out. My dad dropped out when he was in sixth grade. I feel like it’s going to be a big deal for them, too, to see their daughter graduate.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: I’m doing nine classes right now. I do five here and four out of school. I had close to 40 classes that I need to have done by this year. But I’m doing it. I’m very motivated.
Q: Do you have a favorite?
A: If it would be something, it would be PE, but right now I don’t do PE.
Q: So you’re going to graduate by June?
A: I know it. I am going to make it by June.
Q: I imagine with all that school work you don’t have much free time?
A: Well, I work full-time. I’m doing like 40 hours a week. I work at Subaru as a cashier-receptionist. … I went home during sixth period and fell asleep until 6 o’clock. Then had homework to do.
I want those hours, too, in order to get work-based learning credits. … I like (working). I have insurance, gas, cellphone bill. I get my work ethic from my dad, I think because he’s a hard worker. I hate being home. I’m either doing a sport or working. I don’t have to ask my parents for everything. If anything, I can help them out by buying my own clothes and things.
Q: What sports have you done?
A: I did gymnastics for about three years, and soccer at the same time. Then I got invited to Junior Olympics but my grandparents couldn’t afford that. Then I did select volleyball for about a year and a half. Then I just stopped doing sports after that. It was expensive being select — you’re traveling everywhere. And at the time I wasn’t working so I couldn’t pay for my sports. Now I can, but I’d have to get back into it. And I work now, so it’s kind of hard.
Q: Have you thought about what you want to do after graduation?
A: I think (Everett Community College) right now. But honestly I don’t know what I want to do.
I’ve always wanted to do nursing. … But it’s a lot of schooling.
Q: You’ve had it tough.
A: It’s been very crazy, my life. I don’t know. I feel like just graduating — for me, but especially for my parents and especially for my grandma, too. If it wasn’t for my grandma I’d be a totally, completely different person.
She practically saved me, honestly. She’s just a really big inspiration to me. She’s a really hard worker. She’s really independent. And she’s real. She’s straight-up with everything. My mom is my mom, but she is, too. She’s raised me; she’s seen everything through my whole life you know.
Q: You just found out your mom has cancer.
A: It’s hard. I get to my point where I have to let everything out. Even though I didn’t grow up with her, I love her. She’s my favorite person, you know?
Q: You look up to your dad, too.
A: If it weren’t for him pushing me and everything, I wouldn’t be at school. I probably would have dropped out and gotten my GED. But now I’m determined. I need to graduate.
Q: So how do you feel at this stage?
A: I’m proud of myself. Some people say that’s what you’re supposed to be doing. And I understand where they’re coming from. But you did not go what I went through. I could have dropped out, given up, not gone to school. If anything, I could have turned out how my parents turned out and doing drugs. Instead I put it in a different perspective. Do I really want to end up like that, where I’m in prison or a hospital, addicted to something? I get the chance to graduate, to actually work and do it.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3432