Central High senior already knows about giving back

Michael Chaffin hugs Central High School Principal Jody Diers after receiving his diploma Monday during graduation at Stocker Stadium. Chaffin donated one of his kidneys to his uncle last August.

Michael Chaffin stood alone among his 377 Central High School classmates when Principal Jody Diers asked on Monday morning who among the Class of 2011 had donated a vital organ so that a relative might live.

Chaffin donated a kidney last August, not long after his senior year began, one that he followed to completion on Monday with the school’s commencement exercises at Stocker Stadium.

He made arrangements “as soon as I turned 18” to donate a kidney to his uncle Timmy, beginning a process that culminated with a four-day hospital stay in August.

“It was a painful process; I’m not going to lie,” Chaffin said shortly after receiving his diploma. “I was in pain for about a month or two.”

Chaffin said he had no hesitation about offering an organ to save a relative.

“I had to do it, you know.”

Chaffin plans to enroll at Mesa State College to study water-quality management.

He’s not alone in planning to attend college in the Grand Valley.

Kissondra Willison is planning to study nursing at Mesa with a Trustee Scholar Award, but said she might well not have gone to college at all had school officials not paid special attention to her.

A member of the first AVID class, Willison said she was pressed daily to keep on track with college planning and preparation.

Without the “Advancement Via Individual Determination” program, “I probably would have procrastinated” the application process, Willison said.

AVID aims to help students who might become college students make sure they move along that path.

Likewise, the AVID program helped Arminel Estevez work on note-taking, meeting deadlines and getting organized, Estevez said.

The 44 students in the AVID program are easily recognized, Diers said, because they had to carry large binders wherever they went.

“You can tell an AVID student because they’re the ones with the broken backs,” Diers said her staff had observed.

Estevez now is the first of her family to graduate from high school in the United States, though education has always been part of her life.

Her mother is a teacher in Mexico, Estevez said.

She plans to attend Mesa and the University of Colorado, Boulder, studying linguistics, then possibly work at the United Nations.

“I’m hopeful I can go far,” Estevez said, “and do something amazing.”


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