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Jeffco Hero Awards: Adrena Rocha

Jeffco Hero Awards: Adrena Rocha
Posted on 11/30/2018
Arvada High School senior Adrena Rocha takes in a lecture during her anatomy and physiology class.Adrena Rocha was trying to keep focus in her anatomy and physiology class at Arvada High School, even though she readily admits it’s not one of her favorite subjects. That’s even with the teacher’s promise of tasty anatomy-themed treats. Blue gummy hand, anyone? The fact that Adrena is here, engaged, and with purpose, is a vast contrast from her freshman days at Arvada when she was lost and adrift. Her counselor, Kevin Falk, remembers it well.

“Somebody who didn’t want to come to school and was more interested in partying and doing bad things,” he said.

“I would probably call myself a lost child.” Added Rocha. “Just kind of following whatever path. Growing up and throughout life, I had a lot of struggles with family.”

In truth, Adrena often had to parent herself, and the results were mixed at best. She says the lowest point came the day she ran away. There were posts about her disappearance that went viral. A lot of people worried. When she finally returned, she realized her actions had big consequences. One of them involved her interest in a law enforcement career.

“They have a police teen academy. The officer told me, ‘that’s off the table now, since you ran away.’ I broke down in tears,” said Rocha.

Those tears and disappointment fueled a turnaround. Adrena dedicated herself to rebuilding her academic career and her reputation.

There’s times when I didn’t want to keep going. I seriously wanted to stop, give up,” she said. “I’ve been on this roller coaster still, going up and down on this roller coaster. In order for me to see my future, I gotta keep going.”

Today, she’s described as an amazing student and inspiring leader, who’s dedicated herself to working with students who struggle, including an after-school girls’ group in the Arvada High School library.
“We thought it would be a good way to get everyone together who’ve been through similar things and to get voices out and to make sure people don’t feel so alone,” explained Rocha.

And that police teen academy? The changes she made in her life not only got her accepted, but she also became part of their advisory council. Who knows, we might one day be seeing an Officer Rocha on patrol.

“I’m proud of everything that you’ve done,” Falk said to Rocha. “There are days where you could’ve given up. You’re a fighter. And I know you will always continue fighting in the future. And I can’t wait to see what you do when you leave Arvada High School.”

See the JPS-TV version of this story here or below.

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