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   WZM Award for Compassion 


Ruth Handy  presenting WZM  Award


WZM Award #9 Presented on June 17, 2007 to Miguel Ruiz of Garfield High School.









Essay by
Miguel Ruiz

As a child my family fell apart and brought despair
upon my childhood. I realized the importance of family
values and the will to succeed at an early age. When I
was 12 years old my mother and father went through a
separation that affected my childhood. My siblings and
I were unattended, unloved and ignored by our father.
Being the oldest male of seven siblings, I became
their role model after not having one myself to look
up to. This new responsibility made a tremendous
impact in my life. I began seeing things from a
different perspective, and it gave me a new persona. I
was no longer a child; I was the man of the house, and
I had to live up to my title. I struggled balancing
both school and house responsibilities. However, I
remained optimistic and full of perseverance. My
responsibilities were assisting my siblings with
homework, comforting them, and disciplining them. But
most importantly I made them laugh. Seeing the smiles
on their faces made me feel that I was doing my job of
making sure my family was happy. The struggles I lived
through had a huge impact in my life and they
determined the form of my character. As long as I am
the man of the house, I will do whatever it takes to
satisfy the needs of my family. They are my essence,
heart, and my soul. The way my family treated me was
very significant in my life. My family is the
foundation of my encouragement. I have learned how to
be reliable and genuine by showing those in despair to
have faith. I have guided all my younger siblings
through our fatherless childhood. From my youngest
sister Ester to my oldest sister Carmen, I have been a
consoling brother to all six of them and supportive
son to my “linda madre”.

Selflessness and dedication are the most
important qualities one can have. Growing up I have
learned of many leaders that were not only a positive
reinforcement for their communities but also role
models for many young men like myself. Having very few
of them in my life time, I educated my self through
school, books and research. Due to lack of leaders in
my community many disadvantages have come across the
lives of those I cared for, including my peers,
siblings and neighbors. We had very few role models
and many negative impressions of our community. Now
that I am more aware of the obstacles my family and
friends face, I have taken the initiative action to do
something about it. Interested in making a difference
and becoming an asset to my community, I have
encountered many opportunities to meet its need.

I stayed off East Los Angeles dangerous streets
by engaging myself with sports and clubs at school.
These sports such as football, track and field, swim
team and water polo, helped me alleviate my stress and
thought me discipline. I became a stronger team player
with self confidence. Each activity gave me the
opportunity to show my commitment by encouraging my
teammates and gaining their trust. Along with the
trust, I have earned “Most dedicated swimmer” award
and track and field medals. Sports and other extra
curricular activities that are fun and challenging
helped me and many of my peers stay positive and safe
in a violent environment.

My education was always my key priority. At
times school seemed overwhelming with all the work and
responsibilities I had to undertake. During my
beginning years of high school my home environment was
demanding with full responsibilities which as a result
impacted my school performance. However I managed to
learn how to balance school, work and family
obligations. As I continue my education, my dreams
will not be left unaccomplished; I will not give up on
dreams and throw away any of the opportunities that I
have been given by those who support me. I know I will
accomplish my goal, but to begin with, I need a
college education to further expand my possibilities.


Ruth Ratna Handy, LCSW
(818) 834-5925


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