I Believe In Second Chances

Leon - Casa Blanca, New Mexico
Entered on December 9, 2008

I believe in second chances when it comes to people. Throughout my life, I have been taught to believe in the benefit of the doubt and to not judge people into contempt. This isn’t a full-proof way of thinking or believing. I can recall giving someone or something a second chance and regretting doing so. On the other side of that coin, I recall someone flourishing when a chance at redemption was given. I’d like to think I’m one of these second-chance flourishers. As a matter of fact, I know I’m one.

I’m 32 years old and a college student. When people go back to college at my age, a Master’s Degree is usually the goal of enrolling. That’s not the case for me. My Road of Life has been rocky, slippery, full of potholes, and one that I’m still trying to navigate onto smoother terrain. When you’re 18 years old and going to a far away college, the world is at your feet. The grades I earned weren’t bad enough to flunk out of New Mexico State but they weren’t good enough to motivate. So after the fall term of 1998, after seven semesters, I dropped out of school and decided to move to Albuquerque. My Life Road became almost unmanageable, dark, and treacherous.

I got a good job working construction and learned a thing or two about sustainability. I only had to worry about myself and my younger sister, who stayed with me and was enrolled at the University of New Mexico. But soon, I met and girl, had a son, and was loaded with responsibility. All this happened fast and it seemed like I was in a constricting downward spiral.

That was when I found the best job I ever had: wildland firefighting. Being outside, helping people out, and seeing results were all rewarding to me and I liked it. I seriously considered going back to school and learning all other aspects of forest management. Given my previous track record at university, I didn’t have many supporters. But my younger sister was the opposite and encouraged me to look into it and believe in myself. I will never forget her saying those words to me.

Soon after, a tragedy struck me and my family and almost broke me completely. My sister and I got into an automobile accident, killing her and narrowly sparing me. Due to the twisted carnage that was once an automobile engulfing me, the Jaws of Life were needed to get me out of the wreck. I believe a second chance was given to me by a higher power. I don’t know why and probably never will. But here I am.

A deep depression set in and was almost inescapable. But slowly I started to come around and realized the second chance at life that was given to me. One day, I decided to enroll in the Natural Resources Program at Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute and I thrived in my new class settings. Things were fun to learn and the people, teachers and students were just as fun. I never forgot what my sister said to me about believing in myself.

After two years, I earned my Associates in Natural Resource Management and went back to work for my fire crew. But I still wondered if I had what it took to obtain a Bachelors degree, thinking it to be only a dream. Due to unforeseeable circumstances, I had become a single parent and was working hard to provide for my son. I talked to my parents and older sister about it. Believing in my ability to