Attitude makes all the difference
Rebecca Freitag-Hunden’s 4-year olds, Alexxis and Alexander, were in school and her 17-year old daughter, Melissa, was in her last year of high school, so she thought this would be a good time to try something new. She told her husband, David, “I need to go to school and learn how to do something.” SJVC’s Pharmacy Tech program was just the ticket to break her 17-year stay-at-home-mom streak.
Rebecca’s excitement to begin again was short-lived when the realities of being a student kicked in. “They threw all this stuff at me,” says Rebecca. “It was like a foreign language to me.” She struggled hard, but began to fail classes. “My greatest obstacle was memorizing things…and overcoming my own stupidity!” she says.
The days passed slowly. “The more I went, the dumber I felt,” she confesses. David said what turned out to be the magic words: “Just try one more day.” “Three months later, I’m still here,” she laughs. “He’s a pretty amazing guy.” Life as a student has changed for Rebecca. “I went from Fs in my first ‘mod’ to As the last 2-months; so I’m pretty proud.”
The kids rallied around her too. Melissa became Rebecca’s drill instructor. “Missy showed me how to do PowerPoint and quizzes me every night on daily terminology,” she says. “She is a great kid and I am grateful she is my daughter.”
“Alexxis always asks me, ‘Mommy, how was your school today; did you play on the playground?’” Alexander’s response is the most dramatic. “He runs to me every day when I get home,” says Rebecca. For Alex, that is a big reaction.
Alexander is autistic and doesn’t usually have a big response to things. “Alex doesn’t give two hoots about people,” says Rebecca, who loves Alex’s little ‘welcome home’ acknowledgement. “He came to us when he was 7-months old and had been very neglected,” says Rebecca. “At 5-months, his diaper weighed more than he did.” Alex is sensitive to bright lights and loud sounds and doesn’t talk, except for an occasional word or two. “He says ‘awesome’ and ‘delicious’ and does his little hand-dancing game with his hands fluttering close to his face,” she says.
The Hesperia campus recently celebrated the world-wide ‘Light it Up Blue’ Shine a Light on Autism campaign to raise awareness of this neurological disorder. The campus lobby and other common areas were illuminated in blue, many students were dressed in blue and message boards contained blue bulletins is support of autism awareness. “I came to school and saw the building lit up in blue and just cried,” says Rebecca.
No matter what comes her way, Rebecca stays positive. “Every day I laugh and have a good time,” she says. When all the campuses competed in the ‘Harlem Shake’ Rebecca was right out there with other students, giving it all she’s got. “Missy always tells me, ‘YOLO, Mom, YOLO!’” You Only Live Once. Or as Rebecca says, “Every once in a while you gotta get out there and shake!”
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