Humans of Venice High: Coping with Depression and Driving to Succeed

Telling our stories, one student at a time.

Julia Escobar and Carmen Perez

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Oarsman staff Julia Escobar and Carmen Perez went around the school campus asking random students if they would mind being interviewed regarding their personal stories. Humans of Venice High is a series of photographs and personal histories revealing the hidden emotions of their subjects.

Alaina Fairly-Moore (10th grade)

What is something you take for granted?

“I take for granted the amount of privilege I have. I realize that I am not the most privileged person in the world, because of just the area I was born in and myself as a person, like what I was born with. It’s not in the uppermost amount of privilege. I feel like I lose sight of just being able to go to a school, first of all, where teachers genuinely care about me. And just having a mom that cares about my education, that is willing to drive me to school at five in the morning so I can get there on time. Being able to surround myself with positive things and having an education.”

What has made you realize that you are extremely grateful to have what you have?

“I think the people in my life. There was some point where I stood back and just realized that I have a lot of adults in my life that care about me, genuinely, a lot of people that act like guiding figures to me, [science teacher] Ms. Jackson being one of them.

I was really really depressed in middle school and when I came into 9th grade I genuinely didn’t want to do anything with my life. I didn’t want to go to college. I wasn’t planning on doing anything. Ms. Jackson took this meter stick and showed us our lives from 1-100. And I just realized that where I am at right now is just a small chunk in my life and I have the ability to do whatever I want to.”

Are you satisfied with where you are at right now?

“No I’m not.  And it is not because I don’t realize what I have. I am not even sure it is because I want more necessarily. But I feel like if you live your entire life being satisfied with what you already have, you will never be able to live life to the fullest. If you work towards nothing, you’re going to receive nothing.”

What is your greatest struggle right now?

“Probably family and mental health is super bad. It’s gotten to the point where I have realized it’s not very manageable because it is something I have no control over.  Although it impacts me, I think the most important thing I have to remember is I can’t let it take control of me. Although I am struggling with this, I am struggling with a lot of toxic ties in our culture. My little cousin is getting bullied and he is getting bullied at school. It worries my mom because drug addiction is really strong in my family. It’s been a pattern where they get bullied at school and at home and they have nowhere to escape so they seek it in addiction. Don’t get me wrong. I am worried about the state of my family. And I am worried about the state of my mental health 24/7. I can’t just let it consume me or else I’ll get nothing done.”

What advice would you give to someone going through what you are going through?

“The advice I give myself is probably what I give to other people and that’s just to remind yourself to look up. Although it’s hard to see the future, but it’s there. We are living in it right now. Although you are struggling right now. You are in quicksand right now. There is always something ahead and you can work towards that.”


Virginia Villalta (11th grade)

What are your goals in life?

“My goals are just to be successful. I think my biggest goal is to end up happy, probably own a house or something. Have a stable career and get my mom things I never thought I could  give her.”

What are your goals in school?

“I want to get all A’s. Basically not be the best, but I want to be pretty good at school and get the biliteracy award and graduate.That would be pretty cool.”

Do you have any plans for the future?

“I want to go to college and into medical school. I really want to go into global health and helping Third World countries through medicine.”

What has been the happiest moment of your life?

“When I am in Mexico. All my family is over there and everything I really know is over there. When I go to Mexico, I feel like I am back in my happy place. One of my happiest moment was when I had my 15th birthday. We had a small party and my family came and we had my quinceañera. It was really nice because my family wasn’t able to make it to the actual one here in L.A.We all had a good time.”

What has been the saddest moment of your life?

“The saddest moment of my life would probably be January and February of this year. I’ve gone through a lot and my mom went to Mexico to visit my grandma for a month. Me and my older brother were home by ourselves. During that time, we lost the electricity at my house because we couldn’t afford to pay the bills. We had no electricity for almost two months.

“It was really hard because school is really important to me and I couldn’t do my school work at home, I had a lot of things going on. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want to tell people we couldn’t afford to basically live. I started failing all my classes. It was really hard.

“When my mom finally came back, she was trying her best to get money. Even then, we didn’t have enough money to pay for the bills, I saw the frustration with my mom and it made me really frustrated. I just wanted to do something about it. It was really hard to get back up from that. That has been one of the lowest points in my life.”

Who’s the most important person in your life?

“The most important person in my life is my sister. She’s 21 years old. She has a stepson. She lives with her family. Ever since my parents divorced when I was six, she took the role as like the second mom. She would make us food.While my mom was working, she took care of me and my brother.

“And now that we are both older, she is just probably one of the only people that will ever support me. Sometimes my mom can’t support me or my dad, but my sister always makes sure I have school supplies or money for food. She’s one of the most influential people that I know in my life.”