July 7, 2005

By Masaleen Sehpin
The Kaselehlie Press

Twelve-year-old Zebadia Rodriquez recently graduated from Hayesville Elementary School with numerous certificates to take home. Rodriquez received several awards and recognitions upon graduating, additional accolades on an already extraordinary life.

The KP reported in its January 22, 2004 issue that Zebadia was diagnosed with retino elastoma, an interocular tumor, when she was only seven months old and had one of her eyes removed at a hospital in Hawaii. She lost her sight completely when she was two years old after the cancer returned and the doctors had to remove her other eye. After chemotherapy, Zebadia said she is better.

She moved to Salem, Oregon in May 2003 with her mother Papiana M. Rodriquez and begun learning English. In September of 2003, Zebadia begun learning to read and write Braille, a system designed for blind people.

Zebadia amazingly conquered Braille in a very short time and could easily pin point Pohnpei and many other places such as the Sahara Desert, the Nile River, Zaire and the Atlas Mountains to name a few on a globe.

At Hayesville Elementary School, Zebadia learned along with sighted children and she told the KP in a recent interview she has lots of friends at Hayesville and the students were being good to her. She graduated as one of the best students and was awarded six different awards to take home along with another certificate from the President of the United States for her outstanding achievements.

Zebadia was awarded a Reading Certificate for meeting State reading standard, a certificate of Merit as a Principal's award, a math award for meeting State math standard, a choral achievement certificate for participation in the Hayesville 4-5 choir, a certificate awarded to her for being the best listener and the certificate of promotion which certifies that she has made satisfactory progress in the required courses and is promoted from elementary school to middle school.

Then there is the President's Education Awards Program, which was presented to Zebadia in recognition of her outstanding academic achievements and was signed by President George W. Bush of the United States and the U.S. Secretary of Education along with the Principal of Hayesville Susanne Buyers.

Along with the President's Education Awards Program was a letter dated March 8, 2005 in which Zebadia was congratulated for receiving the President's Award. The president wrote, "I join your family and friends in applauding you as you are recognized for your achievements." The President further wrote "By setting high standards and working hard, you can achieve your dreams."

Zebadia will be attending Adam Steven Junior High when she goes back to the States, but she is here on Pohnpei, enjoying her short stay. She arrived on Pohnpei on June 20, 2005 and will be returning to Oregon on July 23, 2005.