South High student overcomes obstacles, walks at graduation


When her son Salatiel was born Angelica Esparza didn't know if he'd graduate with his class, let alone walk across the stage; Tuesday he did both.

  "I'm very, very happy," said Angelica. "This been a long, long way for him." 

Salatiel was born 11 weeks early and weighed just one pound.
His premature birth led to a lot of health issues, resulting in numerous surgeries on his legs, stomach, nose and eyes.

KAKE News Reporter Porsha Riley: "You have a miracle baby." 
Angelica Esparza: "Yes!" 

The journey to get here wasn't easy. 

Salatiel spent years in physical therapy to master the steps to get his diploma. Now, he's ready for the next challenge.

"I'm going to Levy next year," Salatiel stated. 

Salatiel's strength, courage and resilience are an inspiration to many, especially his little brother.

 "I really like seeing him succeed because it makes me feel really good," said Santiago. "My favorite thing is that he's super happy all the time." 

Salatiel isn't the first student  who uses a wheelchair to walk across the South High stage. It's actually a school tradition, one that Salatiel carried on and he hopes continues.

"It was exciting," he said.