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'You just have to face your difficulties': Johnson High's Jocy Razo reflects on transformation
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Johnson High School senior Jocy Razzo will attend Lanier Technical College in the fall. - photo by Brian Wellmeier

Jocy Razo came to Johnson High School halfway through her ninth grade year. She had just been adopted, lifted from what she described as an abusive, “suffocating” household.

With that life behind her, Razo knew she now had the power to envision what she wanted this new chapter to look like. Despite an element of uncertainty within her, Razo was determined to define that chapter herself.

“I didn’t know anyone,” she said. “I didn’t know any teachers, friends. I came here with no knowledge of anything, so I slowly started transitioning into leadership programs and clubs – now I’m in a healthcare science club. I’ve just loved all four years.”

Razo, who graduated earlier this month, said she aspires to use the knowledge she’s gained in various leadership roles as a student at Johnson High School to uplift people trapped in those kinds of situations – like the one she had to overcome.

“When I was 14, I was going through a lot of violence at home – a lot of domestic, physical, emotional neglect, too,” Razo said. “It was me and my brother, so I decided to get us out of that. I reached out for help – my family, my (aunt) was extremely supportive. We weren’t planning on getting adopted…they fell in love with us and said they wanted two more children, so they got two more children.”

Razo credited the unwavering support she received from teachers and other staff members at Johnson High School for shaping her into the person she is today, describing them as a “support system” that provided her guidance, knowledge, encouragement and motivation.

“Besides the amazing programs and clubs they offer here, I noticed the support system – your teachers here will push you, and not for you to stress out or be frustrated with yourself,” Razo said. “They push you to be better every day. It’s a really nice environment.”

Razo underwent not only a mental transformation when she started high school – but also a physical one. In ninth grade, she said she was overweight and unhappy with her physique. Now in excellent shape, Razo said she maintains a healthy obsession with physical fitness.

“You have to make lifestyle changes, so I started running and eating right,” Razo said. “Then I picked up weights, and ever since then, it’s been two years and I love it.”

Razo plans to attend Lanier Technical College to become a paramedic. Eventually, she hopes to work her way up to a degree in paramedicine. 

She’s also not ruling out a side-gig as a personal trainer. 

Ultimately, Razo will never forget the obstacles she had to hurdle to get here. And with that, she said, comes a responsibility to help others.

“I want to share my experience and hopefully help people and children in that area,” Razo said. “...I never thought I would get to the point where I’m at right now, graduating and just making my (family) proud.”

As a message to others enduring hardship, Razo’s advice is to never lose hope.

“Never, never ever give up,” she said. “Life is very realistic, it’s very scary. There’s a lot of things out there that challenge us every day, but you just have to go through it. There’s no way around it. There’s no way you won’t go through it. You just have to face your difficulties, and never give up.”