Angelica Chavez, a senior at CSU-Pueblo, has learned a life lesson the hard way.
After high school, Chavez decided to take time off and not to pursue college immediately. After five years of trying to find herself in all the wrong places, a chance encounter with First Year Program Advisor, John Sandoval, began to steer her in the right direction.
Although Chavez began to make steps to better herself, the actions of her past began to haunt her.
“That first semester was pretty horrible because I was dealing with my bad decisions, you know. I had a DUI. I was on the ankle monitor. I was dealing with consequences of my bad decisions. In the meantime, I was trying what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Chavez said.
In her first couple years she tried to escape her problems with the use of alcohol. With no success, Chavez became fed up and decided it was time to change.
Chavez’s cousin Risa Mondragon finally convinced her to attend church. With much hesitation, Chavez attended church that Wednesday and found what she was looking for all along.
She found her safe haven in the church. There, she said she felt free from judgment and felt the love of God.
Chavez began to regularly attend services at New Beginnings Church.
“My life was just going in a different direction. I was finally starting to find happiness. I was finding it in a relationship with God. My whole life changed, I was no longer lost. I was beginning to find a purpose, my life had a meaning,” Chavez said.
Her newfound relationship with her religion would help Chavez in her junior year.
Chavez began to experience vertigo and had difficulties walking. After multiple doctor visits and misdiagnoses, she made a trip to the emergency room. There, she was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
MS affects the brain and the spinal cord. It is an inflammatory disease that damages the insulating covers of the nerve cells, the damage disrupts the nervous system, according to WebMd.
After the disheartening diagnoses, Chavez’s relationship with God began to grow stronger.
Of course, without the help of family and close friends by her side, Chavez said she wouldn’t be the woman she is today.
Her mother, Patty Chavez, has been a strong voice of support and comfort for Chavez.
Patty, who was a teacher at Bradford Elementary for 35 years, retired to help take care of her daughter through these tough times.
“My mom is my best friend. She would walk me up to my work when I had vertigo. She is amazing. She would take me to my doctor appointments. When all this was happening, she was the one reminding me it was going to be OK,” Chavez said.
“She is a very strong woman of faith,” Patty said. “Her faith and focus in God has helped her in not giving up. She has had an amazing journey and God is going to keep her strong.”
Chavez remains active in the search for a cure. She is currently organizing a team to enter the Walk MS on the Riverwalk. This will be the second year “Heli’s Angels” will be participating in the event.
The money raised by each team goes to fund research for new treatments and to finding a possible cure. The event will be held May 9.
In May, she will finally graduate with her bachelor’s in business administration. Graduating has been a struggle for Chavez to achieve, but she credits this important time in her life to friends and family.
“I would really like to thank my mom and brother, my professors in the Hasan School of Business, everyone at First Year Programs and New Beginnings Church. Especially Dr. Salazar, God sent me to an amazing neurologist,” Chavez said.
In the not too distant future, she hopes to become an inspirational speaker and motivate those who need a helping hand.