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For Shirley Archila, an attitude change made all the difference

There was a time, and it wasn’t all that long ago, when Shirley Archila wasn’t a big fan of school. She didn’t take it seriously, and she didn’t like many of the students around her. People made fun of her for being Mexican, or for being short.

Basically, it sucked.

“I never really focused in school,” she said. “I pushed it to the side and didn’t care about it.

“I was really hard on myself. I’d always push myself down.”

Then, sometime toward the end of her sophomore year, Archila decided to change things. The solution was as simple as a change in attitude. She decided to be in a better mood, and so she was.

Archila calls it her epiphany, and she doesn’t offer a lot of clues about why it happened. Her grandmother might have had something to do with it, though. The woman Archila describes as her “second mom” was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and while Archila doesn’t say it directly, the path she has mapped out in recent years and going forward seems to show the impact of that diagnosis.

Archila currently holds jobs as an RA at two senior living facilities. She plans to attend Inver Hills Community College next year to study biology, then move on to the University of Minnesota. She wants to go to medical school and eventually move into a discipline that works with the brain.

“I want to do something with (Alzheimer’s) because it’s really sad,” she said.

The focus she lacked a few years ago seems plentiful now.

“I feel like a lot of good things have been happening to me,” she said. “I just really enjoy helping people out.”

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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