Tragedy over the Holidays

Story By: David Malagon

The Holiday season is a time for families to rejoice, a time for individuals to make personal dedications to better themselves and the world around them. For Jessica Estrada, the holiday season was anything but peaceful, joyful, or exciting.

In fact, it was an absolute nightmare. Her inner most fears came to life once again. She spent another holiday season mourning a deceased relative.

While finishing up her first semester in 2005, her father Daniel Estrada passed away. The grief was too much for her to handle. Estrada was not able to complete her courses causing her to fail her entire first semester. She was carrying nine units at that time.

About two years later, tragedy struck Estrada once again. Her aunt Gloria Olmos, also a FCC graduate, passed away due to complications involving lymphoma on Dec. 14 2007.

After her father passed away, 19 year old Estrada fell into a deep state of depression and wasn’t able to focus on her studies as she had wanted.

She promised herself to help anyone in similar circumstances. Estrada decided to major in Nursing because of her strong desire to help others.

“I have learned that life is short, it’s precious and it’s something to be valued,” Estrada said. “I intend to make the most of it and to learn as much as I can and to love as much as I can and to be there for people who have been there for me.”

Estrada’s loss was a devastating time for her, but she has tried to stay on track to complete as many units as she can along the way. “Class is therapeutic. [It] kind of gives me a break from being sad, because I know I need to focus,” Estrada said.

Estrada also recommends services that are available to all students at Fresno City College such as grief counseling at the Psychological Services office.

“When you’re going through losing a loved one, it’s hard to do it alone without any support system,” Estrada said. “If someone doesn’t have family or friends they feel they cannot talk to I strongly recommend they utilize the resources available at Fresno City, because there is always someone there to listen and to guide you.”

The past holiday brought grief for Estrada.

“My Aunt Gloria meant the world to me, she was my second mother and a strong female in my life, and she taught me to be independent,” Estrada said. “She was the most intelligent woman that I’ve ever known”

Estrada went on to say “She saved me. She was someone who was always there for me. I never went without emotionally and financially. She loved me like her own daughter.”

Estrada is currently enrolled in nine units at FCC and has no plans to quit – no matter what comes her way.

“Just remember that life is a roller coaster ride and we’re going to have our ups and downs but try not to let that interfere with your education,” Estrada said. “In the long run it’s going to make life that much harder.”