April 26, 2019

Overcoming Obstacles: A CalPac Student Interview

Student Spotlight on CALPAC 11th grader: Ivy

Why did you choose CALPAC? 

During the middle of my sophomore year of high school, I was attending a regular in-person public school but had to abruptly take a year off from my education because I started to have severe medical problems. I was hospitalized for two months, and even after I as released back home, I couldn’t do any work because of a combination of malnutrition, lack of sleep, nausea, and other symptoms that adversely impacted my ability to concentrate and perform academically. As I started to gradually improve, I was ready to get back to doing schoolwork, even though I wasn’t in a place in my recovery where I was able to go to classes. At first, I enrolled in the home hospital program that my public school provided for students in situations similar to mine. However, I struggled to complete work because this program required pre-scheduled home teaching sessions, which I regularly canceled last minute due to the unpredictable nature of my conditions. I originally heard about CalPac through my mom, who is a summer school teacher here. Over the summer of 2017, I took a few classes at CalPac and had a lot of success with the way the curriculum was structured. Because it is hard to predict how symptomatic I’ll be on a given day, and thus how much schoolwork I’ll be able to complete, with CalPac I’m able to get a lot of work done when I’m feeling up to it, even if that is between midnight and 2:00 in the morning. I ultimately decided to enroll in Calpac as a full-time student because of the flexibility provided in the course structure, as well as the credit recovery program they offer. Unlike programs at other online schools, the credit recovery program allows me to complete courses at a much quicker pace, and I’m able to add in more classes as I complete them. This puts me on track to graduate in 2020, which is my goal.

What advice do you have for students to be successful here?

The best advice I could give a student would be to not procrastinate. Though this might seem obvious, I know from experience that it is easy to put off classwork because of the flexibility that comes with going to CalPac, or any online school. For me, even if I have only 20 minutes of time to spare, I’ll try to use that to complete a few assignments, because every little bit counts.

What are your plans after HS?

I always took an interest in STEM related subjects, but it wasn’t until I started to have my medical problems that I definitely knew that I wanted to become a doctor. After being a patient for so long, going to doctors appointments weekly, and being hospitalized multiple times, I want to be able to be on the other side of things, advocating for others going through what I did. Once I finish high school, I want to go to a university and major in either Spanish, or major in a biological science and minor in Spanish. After that, I want to go on to medical school to become a doctor. I’m not sure what I would want to specialize in, but I find pediatric surgery particularly intriguing. 

Your English teacher mentioned you have a website. Can you tell me about that? 

On my blog www.thisgutfeeling.org, I talk about my experiences that come with living with multiple digestive diseases. I have Gastroparesis, meaning my stomach doesn’t digest food as well as it should. I’ve had problems with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, an excess of bad flora in the gut. I also have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. But, the main source of my symptoms that prevent me from living normally is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, a condition in which the mast cells of immune system hyperactively release histamine into the body, causing nausea, fatigue, low blood pressure, and other symptoms. In my blog posts, I give tips and tricks, share recipes, and talk about how my conditions impact my life and how I try to combat them. I started the blog as a support forum, but lately it has become a make-shift diary, and a therapy. Writing my blog helps me stay level-headed, and remember that I’m not the only one struggling with these conditions.