Every Student Succeeding: Destiny Stallings

The man Destiny affectionately calls “Papa”, her grandfather, stepped up and took over as her caretaker after a rocky start to her life. When he was diagnosed with cancer, her world fell apart. Both her grandfather and her uncle died within months of each other, pitching Destiny into a deep depression. She attempted suicide while still a student, desperate for an end to her pain. It was the memory of her grandfather however, that brought her back out of the darkness. With the help of the educators at West Campus High in Sacramento, and the memories of the man who loved her as a daughter, Destiny fulfilled her grandfather’s wish that she would graduate from high school. She has her sights set on college and is determined to make both her uncle and her beloved grandfather proud.

Sept. 12, 2017

Sacramento students finds hope after death of grandfather, uncle

Destiny Stallings has a tough exterior that she often uses as a defense mechanism.

“I don’t tell people a lot,” Destiny said. “I don’t want people to see me as weak and take advantage of me so I keep it to myself. So I act like everything is ok when really on the inside it’s not.”

Destiny faced loss and neglect throughout the course of her childhood. Her parents were in and out of her life. The man Destiny affectionately calls “Papa”, her grandfather, stepped up and took over as her caretaker.

“He raised me since I was three and basically I looked up to him,” Destiny said. “He used to build old-school cars and then sell them so he had his own shop. I used to go over there every day to help him. That was like my best friend.”

Destiny’s grandfather raised her as if she was his own child. The two were inseparable until a cancer diagnosis changed everything.

“He sat me down one day two weeks before he went to the hospital,” Destiny said. “I had never seen this man cry and he cried. And he said he had cancer. And I couldn’t stop crying. I got to the point where I couldn’t breathe. He said he’s going to fight through it and he wants me to graduate high school and go to college. And stay on the right track.”

Mike Marshall lost his battle with cancer on April 12, 2014. With his death, Destiny struggled to make sense of the loss.

“I didn’t know what to do anymore with myself,” Destiny said. “I didn’t have emotion anymore. I tried to run away from it.”

Four months later, Destiny’s uncle, Tyler Marshall, died in a motorcycle crash. Destiny says she hit rock bottom and felt like her life was no longer worth living.

“Everything was getting to me and I tried to commit suicide,” Destiny said. “And I just wanted to go. I wanted to be with them. What stopped me was the fact that I wanted to prove everyone wrong. The fact that I want to let them know I can do it.”

Destiny persevered through the grief and channeled her loss into something positive. She wanted to fulfill her grandfather’s wishes and graduate from West Campus High in Sacramento. With the help of teachers and educators at the school, Destiny found hope.

“She always was pretty tough,” West Campus High teacher Lynne Samaan said. “Handled whatever she needed to handle and moved on and went about her day.”

In June, Destiny graduated from West Campus High. She has plans of going to college. But her cry and her creed still center around Mike and Tyler Marshall and making sure she’s doing right by them.

“Hopefully they’d say they’re proud of me,” Destiny said. “Every decision I make, I’m like, ‘Ok, what would my papa say? What would my uncle say?’ So hopefully I’m making them proud because that’s what they always wanted me to graduate and go to college so I’m going to do that for them.”

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