Every Student Succeeding: Nathalie Uribe

Nathalie Uribe was raised by her grandmother with love and support in the small town of California City. When she arrived home from a sporting event and found that she had passed away, her world fell apart. Nathalie’s small-town school community rallied around her, letting her lean on them when she needed help, to push her through. She ended her senior year strong, achieving a 4.0 and medaling four times for her track team… all in the name of making her grandmother proud.

July 5, 2017

California City student dedicates senior year to grandmother

The dichotomy of California City is fascinating. With an area of more than 200 square miles, it’s the third largest city in the state of California. Yet, it has a population of only 13,000 people bringing a small-town feel to the city. But natives are quick to caution against closing your eyes on the people in this sleepy old town.

“People are going to look out for each other,” California City High counselor Nicole Williford said. “The kids are tough.”

And if anyone exemplifies the toughness of this city, it’s Nathalie Uribe. Her father was not always present in her life. Her mother is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for narcotics possession.

“As far as a kid who’s been through so much, so many steps in her life where it seemed like where things in her life got good, it would be bad,” California City High track coach Samuel Sherman said. “There’s no way she should be who she is.”

With both of her parents out of her life, Nathalie lived with her grandmother. But in the fall of 2015, Nathalie returned home from a football game only to find her grandmother had passed away after a battle with cancer.

“I see her laying on the floor in a huddled position,” Nathalie said. “And then it was just like I didn’t know what to do. Everything stopped for me. I kept calling her name knowing that she wasn’t alive.”

But in the wake of loss, this small town stepped up in a big way.

“I think it’s definitely helped being small town, small school where there are people who are like, ‘I see you struggling and I want to do whatever I can to help,’” Williford said.

Nathalie is quick to point out she does not know if she would have made it through the tragedy had it not been for her classmates and educators.

“Since we’re like a small community, and the high school is small, everyone is pretty much there for you,” Nathalie said. “The staff members, they see when something is wrong with you. And they want to help you. They just all come together and make everything like a family even if you don’t feel like you have one at home.”

Despite her pain and anguish, Nathalie made it her mission to devote her senior year to her grandmother. All of her goals. All of her dreams. All for her grandmother.

“I wanted to make her proud,” Nathalie said. “My goal was to get straight A’s and have a 4.0. and just to make my senior year about her. All of my accomplishments. I worked hard. And now I do have a 4.0.”

In the fall, Nathalie will attend Taft Community College. She has hopes of pursuing a career in criminal justice. And she will have the support of 13,000 strong.

“Honestly, she shouldn’t be where she’s at,” Sherman said. “She shouldn’t be going to college. She shouldn’t be achieving straight A’s. She shouldn’t be achieving goals in sports. It’s a tragic situation. But the joy that she brings to me is that she just keeps going.”

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