“The people in my life have been with me through thick and thin” – Clara M. Sowers-Rodriguez

School: University of Florida
Year: SSF Alum ’02
House: Hansen

2002 Photo: My UF graduation with my friends: Jeannie, me, Holly, and Danny. Jeannie (far left) is the one who pushed to apply for SSF.

When I was little, my mother taught me to read, listen to music, sing, have good manners, and treat others with respect (amongst the thousands of other things she taught me).  As I became a young adult, going to college was stressed even more as a factor in having a good education. I did that, thanks to the support of my mother.  Even though I didn’t take full advantage of the classes I took, I learned more than I could have imagined. There came a time when I was almost ready to pack my bags and go back home to Miami because finances were a burden.  I am eternally thankful to my friend and life-sister, Jeannie Martinez (SSF Alumna), for pushing me to apply for SSF; and to Teresa Turner for seeing something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.  She and SSF gave me the second chance I needed to finish college, with the relationships and experiences that came along.

The people in my life have been with me through thick and thin. They were there when I happily graduated, when I started my first company, when I had my first child, got married, moved, when my mother was dying, and when she passed. I felt so alone when my mom died.  When I realized that the person that loved me the most in this world was no longer physically present, it crushed me in unimaginable ways.  However, life has gone on, and as much as I miss her every minute of every day, I know I am not alone. God has given me the people I need, at the moment I need them. They have been there for everything, and even as I write this, my husband was part of a layoff at work two days ago, just as I am building a business in our new home in Jacksonville, FL and count on his income to let me follow a dream.  Yet again, these people are there, providing love and support in a myriad of ways.

My greatest education has come from the interactions with these amazing people in my life.  Starting with my mom, who is my hero, overcame multiple illnesses, 24 years of dialysis, still managed to raise 3 children, go back to school for her Master’s, work full-time, and cultivate personal relationships with people I didn’t even know. She taught me faith, perseverance, and more faith.  Then, the friends, family and husband God has given me be it through school, SSF, travel, work, church, etc. They have shown me the value of listening, have provided unconditional support, and keep my love for humanity escalating. My children complete this circle. They let me see the world through new eyes on a daily basis, and have taught me how to love unconditionally.

Every experience teaches us something. Sometimes, the lesson is that there are good people in the world. Sometimes, we have to learn how to stand up again.  The point is to learn, appreciate the good and the bad for the growth it brings you, and live sucking the juice out of this life we are given. What you need, will always be provided and you are never alone.

CruiseFamPic2012-002
December  2012 –  My mom’s first and only cruise, the weekend before doctors found cancer. We were all together. (Top row: my brother, his wife, my sister, my youngest son, me, my middle son, my husband. Bottom row: my nephew, my mom, my dad, my daughter).

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