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Posted May 15, 2014

Injured Cibola Senior Presented Diploma in Special Ceremony

20-year-old student was injured in a motorcycle accident in 2012.

: Melissa Esquibel, Gary Esquibel and his uncle Sider Esquibel.

Two years ago Gary Esquibel was ending his junior year and getting ready to enjoy the summer before starting his final year in high school. All of that changed when on April 13, 2012, he was riding his motorcycle and was struck by an SUV.

Wednesday, after two years of perseverance and dedication -- including 37 surgeries and a year in rehabilitation -- Esquibel did finally end his high school journey and earned his diploma, which was presented by Cibola High School Principal Elena Salazar in a special ceremony at the APS Special Education Aztec Complex.

Cheered on by family and friends, Esquibel, who uses a wheelchair and cannot speak, was able to move the tassel on his mortar board from the right to the left to indicate he had graduated.

Mary Salazar, his teacher in the APS Homebound program for the past year, thanked Esquibel for allowing her to work with him. “It has been an inspiring experience to watch you grow. You always found a way to communicate by typing, drawing, snapping your fingers or making other signs so that I would understand you,” Salazar said.

Loretta Garcia, who oversees the Homebound program that provides one-to-one instruction for students who are not able to attend regular classes, said that Esquibel was a wonderful student. She also commended his mom Melissa for her strength and dedication. “She is his number one advocate,” Garcia said.

Melissa Esquibel also spoke about her son’s strength and perseverance. “He never gives up,” she said.

Esquibel’s cousin, Katrina Torres, who gained national attention when she streaked onto the field at the NFL’s Pro Bowl in January with a New Mexico flag and the words “I did it 4 Gary” written on her back, also spoke at the ceremony. She recalled the fun she and her cousin had growing up and call him her “hero.”

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