2020 Turnaround Student: Iris Morales


Lauren Stallworth, Editor

High school is an incredibly challenging time for all of us; it is filled with ups and downs, and new experiences; some good, and some bad. It is easy to get caught up in the bad moments and fall behind. But there is always a way to overcome your battles and find who you are. Iris Morales is an amazing example of this. Being named our 2020 Turnaround student, Iris has overcome a lot. During the earlier parts of her high school career, she went through a lot of struggles with confidence and motivation. Her GPA began to drop, and it was hard at first to reach out to people. But along the way, she made a decision to change; and she has thrived ever since. It is often hard to overcome personal struggles, but people like Iris show that perseverance is everything, and it has certainly paid off.
I would love to tell Iris’s story, but I think it is only fitting that you hear it directly from her. She has done amazing things and is someone to look up to.

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself

A: “Hi, my name is Iris, and I’m a senior. I have a twin brother, and sometimes I’m really shy and awkward; but once I get comfortable with people, I’m definitely more goofy and outgoing. Sometimes I’m really hard on myself, more than others are on me, and I don’t have a lot of confidence, but it’s something I am working on overcoming.”

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: “I really don’t have too many hobbies, but one is definitely singing. I also love editing and creating videos as well”

Q: What does it feel like to be the 2020 Turnaround Student? Were you surprised?

A: “Honestly it is an honor to receive such recognition. It was very unexpected for me, and it honestly makes me emotional. I didn’t think that I would ever be recognized for something like this, especially considering that there are a lot of students that work hard as well. I’m more grateful than anything. It feels very heartwarming to know that people are aware of the struggles I’ve been through, and the hard work it took to be where I am now. I was honestly surprised. It’s more of like ‘wow, out of all people, me?’”

Q: What struggles and obstacles have you had to overcome?

A: “An obstacle I’ve definitely had to overcome (and still currently working on) is believing in myself. Like I said before, I’m not super confident and I bring myself down too much. However, it’s something that has gotten better, thanks to the support team I have. It’s hard to be dedicated to something and put your all into it when you feel like you can’t do it. When you have no motivation. When you think you can’t make it. When you feel like you’re struggling and drowning alone.”

Q: How did you overcome them?

A: Slowly overcoming my problems wasn’t something that could happen overnight. I had to open up to people, which was hard at first. One main thing that helped me was speaking about my feelings. I used to keep it all in, to the point where I would just explode. At first, speaking up was really difficult. I used to think that I couldn’t trust telling things to my administrators; I thought that they would talk about me to other people, and try to get me help just because ‘I had problems’. But it wasn’t like that at all. I know that’s why people hold back their feelings, but in reality, they just want to help you, support you, and encourage you. And that’s exactly what they did for me. They showed me that I can trust them and feel comfortable with telling them my problems, without having any fear.”

Q: What has been your proudest accomplishment in school?

A: “My proudest accomplishment has to be that I’ve recovered all of my classes and that I brought my GPA up. Definitely that I was able to open up more, too.”

Q: What has been your favorite class, and a staff member that you’re really close to and that has helped you?

A: “The class that I enjoyed the most was journalism. Not just because of how amazing Ms. Passardi was towards me, but also because I got to share my creativity in creating videos, and writing articles. I got to share my thoughts and have fun at the same time. I can’t choose just one staff member to be my favorite, and I need to recognize all the main ones who supported me through it all: Mrs. Fewox, Ms. Passardi, Mrs. Joyce, and Mrs. Deshotels. They have supported me during my lowest times, and I can’t ever thank them enough for it. I am where I am thanks to them. It’s scary to think that if I didn’t have them pushing me forward and making me feel strong enough to do things, I’m not sure where I would be and how my grades would have turned out.”

Q: Who has been your support system?

A: “All the people that I mentioned have been my support system since I transferred to this school. Outside of school, I have a hard-working, responsible, independent mom who showed me how to work hard for things. She’s been a big inspiration for me. Honestly, without my mom, I wouldn’t be me. She’s taught me to be humble, work hard, and show nothing but love and respect.”

Q: What has been your favorite moment/memory in high school?

A: “My favorite memory in high school is looking back and seeing who I was, and who I am now. It’s a big difference and that makes me happy.”

Q: What advice do you have to students for their personal and academic lives?

A: “The best advice that I could give is to just try your best and do your work. And if you aren’t motivated, speak up and tell someone about it. There are people who care about you whether you know it or not. It gets better, and you might be at an all-time low now, but that’s not the end. Pick yourself back up. It might be difficult but it’s not impossible.”

Q: What’s one thing you’re glad you did in high school? What would you do differently?

A: “One thing I’m glad I did was (once again) talk about my feelings and trust people. Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I wouldn’t change anything I’ve been through because it helped build me and become who I am today. I’ve learned from my mistakes. It feels good to work hard and feel proud of yourself for once; in the end, it’s all worth it.”

Iris has an incredible story that certainly isn’t stopping here. After high school, she will be attending PHSC to prepare her for whatever her future holds. Thank you Iris for sharing, and congratulations; you deserve this!