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From foster care to first generation college student: Thermal high school senior shares her story

Local senior Cesia Siordia will be graduating from La Familia High School in Thermal next month. She has plans to become the first in her family to attend college after overcoming incredible challenges in her young life. 

She sat down with News Channel 3’s Madison Weil at her current home near Salton City. 

“When I was younger I would see things that I didn’t want to see. And I’d feel alone most of the time,” said Siordia. 

Siordia explains she grew up in foster care living in different homes, different cities and with different families. 

“That was pretty difficult because I would fall behind whenever I would go to a different school,” she said. “Since no one knew me and I didn’t dress very well...I would get bullied a lot.” 

Before the pandemic, she would wake up at four in the morning, sometimes taking three or four buses to make it to class in Thermal. 

When school shifted to distance learning, she says that brought its own set of challenges.

“The wifi is not so good out here especially in this area,” she said. 

Siordia currently lives with eight other family members all sharing one wifi hotspot. 

Her teacher, Manuel Arriaga, shared a recording from one of their Zoom class meetings. Siordia is seen with her little brother on her hip, cooking for her family, while also participating in class. 

“I called for volunteers and she was the one who raised her hand and said I want to read,” said Arriaga. 

Arriaga says it’s a portrait of what many east valley students have faced this last year. 

“She was in the living room. She was also baking some cookies and she was also reading an article for me and for her classmates. And she was taking care of her little brother. Those are some challenges that we don’t always think about with our students,” added Arriaga. 

Siordia also made sure her four younger siblings kept up with their own studies this last school year.  

She’s now graduating next month -- a huge milestone in her life. She’ll be the first in her birth family to attend college. “I plan on going to online college so I can save up,” she said. 

Her long-term goal? To provide a stable life for her own future family one day: “I want to be able to give a better future, better mental health and better health...so they can triumph a little bit easier than I did.” 

Siordia says she’s currently working a part-time job to save up money for a laptop for college. If you’d like to help financially support Siordia and her academic goals, you can donate via this GoFundMe HERE. 

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Madison Weil

Madison Weil joined the KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 News Team in June 2018. Learn more about Madison here.

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