College Days


me and ben at almost 4


I attended three dif­fer­ent col­leges over a period of many years. After I grad­u­ated from high school, I went to Modesto Junior Col­lege. After a cou­ple of years there where I was get­ting my lower divi­sion require­ments done, I had my first detour in my col­lege education.

I became preg­nant with my son Ben. When he was 7 months old, I became a sin­gle mom. School was on the back burner for many years and I focused solely on rais­ing him.

When he went into first grade, I went back to col­lege at Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­sity, Stanis­laus. I was at first a Psy­chol­ogy major, but I quickly decided to go for a dou­ble major to pre­pare to be an ele­men­tary school teacher. Trans­porta­tion was a major chal­lenge for me, since I am unable to drive because of my vision. I spent about 4 hours a day on buses to get back and forth to col­lege, while jug­gling school and being a sin­gle par­ent of a child with spe­cial needs. My mother was an incred­i­ble help in this process.

To pre­pare for the Mul­ti­ple Sub­ject teach­ing cre­den­tial, I switched to Lib­eral Stud­ies and Psy­chol­ogy dou­ble major. I had the edu­ca­tion track require­ments, the new CLADD require­ments, and my con­cen­tra­tion in Excep­tional Child and Youth. I finally switched to a minor in Psy­chol­ogy. While I was attend­ing col­lege, my son was switched from being in a reg­u­lar class­room to a non pub­lic school for chil­dren with spe­cial needs, and had two surg­eries. It took sev­eral years to finally fin­ish my BA.

Then came my sec­ond detour. My fiance passed away at the same time my mother’s health seri­ously dete­ri­o­rated. At this time, my son grad­u­ated from the 8th grade and there was no school that would pro­vide what he needed for high school. I left school and moved in with my mother to take care of her and home­school my son. Then in Decem­ber of 2005, my son passed away. My mom died a year later.

After work­ing through my grief, and mov­ing to San Jose where the pub­lic tran­sit sys­tem was much bet­ter, I started my teach­ing cre­den­tial at San Jose State Uni­ver­sity. My plan was to get my Mul­ti­ple Sub­ject cre­den­tial, and then open my own edu­ca­tional con­sult­ing busi­ness. Halfway through the pro­gram, that door was slammed in my face. Cal­i­for­nia laid off over 20 thou­sand teach­ers to help bal­ance the bud­get, and I was let go from the program.

So now I am once again rein­vent­ing myself and start­ing a new jour­ney. I do not regret any of the twists and turns along the way. All are valu­able lessons and expe­ri­ences. No mat­ter what hap­pens along the way, you can move for­ward and not remain stuck. You need to not blame the cir­cum­stances, but learn from then and find a new path when you run into a dead end. I have done it many times and you can too.

Girl Scouts Together


girl scout pic

From first grade on, I was in Girl Scouts. It is a won­der­ful orga­ni­za­tion which gave me a great deal of skills and expe­ri­ence. I was a bit of an over­achiever in it and earned most of the awards possible.

When I went for my First Class Award, they were tran­si­tion­ing into a new pro­gram so I earned both the old and the new pro­gram which included the Sil­ver and Gold Awards. These awards were much more com­pli­cated than just earn­ing a sin­gle badge or chal­lenge. The Gold Award is very much the equiv­a­lent of earn­ing the Eagle Scout Award in Boy Scouts.

I also was the youngest ever in my area to earn the Green Angel Pin for out­stand­ing troop lead­ers. As part of earn­ing my Gold Award, I was a troop leader for a Brownie troop (grades 1 to 3). I always had assis­tant lead­ers who were over the age of 18, since I was still a minor, but I ran the troop.

Even now as an adult. I still try to live my life very much by the Girl Scout Law as it was when I was in Girl Scouts. Changes have hap­pened since then, but I still believe that Girl Scouts is a won­der­ful orga­ni­za­tion for teach­ing skills and pro­vid­ing expe­ri­ences that are both fun and edu­ca­tional. Skills you can use your whole lifetime.

If you would like more infor­ma­tion about Girl Scouts in the US, check out their main web­site at

There are also Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in many other coun­tries around the world.

Being Small Enough to Fit in a Shoebox



me at 3

That is an odd title I know, but there is a story behind it. From the time I was 2 years old, I went up to San Fran­cisco and saw an oph­thal­mol­o­gist named Dr. Jam­pol­ski. He always said that I had been his patient since I was small enough to fit in a shoe box.

He would sched­ule all day appoint­ments for me and have doc­tors and res­i­dents from all over the world come to see my eyes. Being a very small child, and hav­ing 20 or 30 strangers all look­ing into my eyes was quite a les­son in learn­ing how to be patient.

He did that because I had so many dif­fer­ent eye prob­lems in one set of eyes. I have been writ­ten up in many med­ical jour­nals and text­books to help teach eye doc­tors. I am happy that all those hours sit­ting and hav­ing my eyes exam­ined, has led to research that has helped so many other patients with their eyes over the years.

A more per­sonal and direct exam­ple of the research on my eyes help­ing some­one else is my cousin Scot, (who is 11 years younger than me). He also saw Dr. Jam­pol­ski on my mother’s rec­om­men­da­tion, and they were able to do more for his eyes based on the data col­lected on mine. That is a really good feeling.

Who am I?


rach old

Well I am on a new excit­ing jour­ney and I hope all of you enjoy the jour­ney with me. How I got here is an inter­est­ing story in itself.

Raised in a small town in the Cen­tral Val­ley of Cal­i­for­nia, I was a pio­neer in main­stream­ing in Cal­i­for­nia. I also was active at a young age in grass roots and polit­i­cal cam­paign­ing. I was a Girl Scout from first grade on. From the time I was a small child, I was placed in the role of leader, men­tor, teacher, and advocate.

My orig­i­nal goal was to get a teach­ing cre­den­tial and open an edu­ca­tional con­sult­ing busi­ness on the side pri­mar­ily in the area of edu­ca­tion and spe­cial needs. I have run into some snags along the way. So now I am start­ing a new path to get me out of the rut and into the running.