Student Profile – Luis

Hanna Student Luis 

Luis is a 17-year-old senior at Hanna Center’s High School, having arrived on campus four years ago. He is from Santa Rosa, but he spent his early years with his grandmother in Mexico on her farm. She had many animals, including chickens, ducks, horses, and cattle. It was here that Luis learned to ride bareback el love horseback riding!” he says) and developed a strong connection with animals that continues to this day.

In his junior year, Luis spearheaded and managed a student-led dog grooming service on campus to serve the handful of pets that faculty and staff would regularly bring to work with them. “I read a bunch of books and watched videos to learn how to interpret dog’s body language and the basics of grooming,” he says. “I wanted to provide the service to staff, but I also knew how therapeutic dogs can be, so spending time with the animals helped mellow the students, too.”

Luis also spent much of last summer raising several lambs and prepping to show them for auction at the Sonoma County Fair. Caring for them every day and witnessing physical conditions that were common for livestock increased his fascination with animal anatomy. A Hanna Center donor learned about Luis’ interest and connected him with a local veterinarian and soon, Luis was invited to shadow several animal surgeries.

Recently, Luis was hired to work part-time at the vet’s office, providing him the opportunity to
work in multiple areas and learn about all components that make a veterinarian
practice successful. His priority is focusing on his future and he has plans to
enter Santa Rosa Junior College next year to start earning college credits
toward a veterinarian tech degree.

Luis is also pursuing training toward becoming a volunteer firefighter and is participating
in Fire Department Station #38’s ‘Fire Explorers’ club. Every week, the
participants train in all areas of firefighting, including gear prep, oxygen
procedures, and even obstacle courses and simulated water rescues.

His dream goal is to one day own a dog kennel that also offers daycare and boarding. “I’d like it
to be near a high school,” Luis says, so teenagers can learn skills and maybe
get some tutoring. The same kind of help that I received from Hanna.”

Luis has a great story that he likes to tell; an experience on campus last year that was symbolic in that all the boys involved learned a valuable lesson about hope and not giving up. “There was a female turkey in our garden who was sitting on her nest,” he says. “One day we came out and she was
gone, but there were three eggs left that weren’t broken. We don’t know how
long they had been out in the cold. We talked about what to do. I suggested we
put them in the incubator and everyone laughed.’

A lesson in second chances. After several days, Luis got notice during science class that they had hatched. “I got the call, and I ran –and I don’t run – to see two baby turkeys. It was because of our hope that they survived.”


“Before coming to Hanna, I had struggles with my behavior,
and was disrespectful,” he says. “Hanna taught me how to communicate better. I
learned working skills and discipline. I also learned how to not judge a book
by its cover; I’ve got some really strong friendships here. There’s always a
deeper story; Hanna taught me we could all go thru the same trauma but each of
us can respond differently. Taught me how to interact with those traumas and
how to turn them from hurt into hope.” 


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