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  • L. Masaracchia


From Dawn’s earliest memories, her mother was caught in a cycle of depression. She isolated herself in her bedroom for hours and nursed her Vicodin addiction. This ruled their family interactions. No one acknowledged that anything was out of the ordinary so when her mother tried to self harm, it seemed normal. Her dad dealt with it by avoiding conversations and being optimistic. She knew both parents loved her but the family patterns were destructive.

As a young adult, Dawn found herself feeling resentful and she strived to become the opposite of her mother. She saw the addiction, as well as the anxiety and depression, as weakness and aimed to be different. She poured herself into her studies and focused on her work. It paid off.

In addition to dealing with her mother’s mental illness, Dawn had other struggles. She grew up in an impoverished neighborhood and faced bullying as a result of being an outsider. Despite the circumstances, she worked hard to get into UCI and earn a bachelor's degree in Education (minor in English) and later a Master’s degree in Education. She put her education to good use as a teacher, a job she loved and dedicated herself to for years.

She got married and had two beautiful girls. However, after a few years, she realized she had rushed into it (not really knowing what a healthy relationship looked like) and as a result she found herself with a self-centered man who she lacked a connection with and didn’t feel comfortable voicing her opinions to. She found herself staying silent on issues that bothered her; it reminded her of her childhood. One day, she reached her tipping point and decided to leave him.

Since then, Dawn has dedicated herself to developing healthy relationships and being a role model for her girls. She has forgiven her mom--she is now a best friend--and has used her love for people, nature, and life to challenge herself to be her best. She is currently an assistant principal and plans to keep pushing herself in the world of education so that she can help others to rise. Dawn strives to be fully present in whatever she is involved in, to confront problems head on, and to teach her girls to use their voice.

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