On February 14, 2018 a gunman wielding an AR-15 entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and fired on students and faculty. Seventeen people lost their lives and many were wounded. Samantha Fuentes was among the wounded and her life was changed forever. She has bullet shrapnel permanently embedded in her legs and behind her right eye and is managing symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
Samantha’s personal story begins long before February 14, 2018. Her single mother who battled alcoholism raised her in a trailer park in Davie, Florida. Her father was absent. She was unpopular with the neighborhood kids, frequently bullied, humiliated and enduring racist attacks, And, there was no respite for Samantha at home, her stepfather was physically and verbally violent.
The trail of her relationships and lack of a positive male parental figure skewed her idea of healthy relationships. In her early teens, she found herself emotionally and physically abusive relationships. At fifteen, she attempted suicide after moving from Davie to Coral Springs, Florida shortly after her transfer to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Though her life had become much happier and stable after that point, looking back, Samantha wishes she had the courage to stand up for herself and ask for help with her struggles. This is what drives her today.
Samantha Fuentes is a survivor. She now works closely with Angel Faces, an organization that serves girls who have endured all types of trauma. Angel Faces gave her a place to exhale from a highly charged traumatic event; she found bravery and self love. Her experiences have tasked her to champion the importance of human rights and equality— being a victim of gun violence only further bolsters her purpose. Her perspective is straightforward: to uplift the voices of the silenced, and remind us that ALL our experiences matter regardless of color, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation. Samantha wants to rally bystanders to participate in change when they witness injustice, because anything is possible in numbers. Even if the odds are low and the risks are high. If Samantha has gained a powerful voice, she believes anyone can find and use theirs!