Rae Trujillo, who recently achieved the first big step in attaining her dream of being a firefighter/flight medic, posted her story on Facebook.
Trujillo describes the adversity she faced throughout her life and the discrimination she faced because of her decision to make a living as a stripper to provide for her child as a young single mother.
Trujillo supported herself and her infant daughter through whatever legal means she could, but minimum wage would not keep a roof over their heads while exotic dancing or stripping would.
But when she chose to tell the truth about her job instead of leave a gap in her work history when applying to the fire academy, her application was discarded out of hand.
United States society has a definite bias against sex workers of all types, including strippers, yet rarely condemn the customers who visit the clubs where they dance or buy pornography or hire prostitutes. People unfairly shame even those in legal professions like stripping or pornography.
Young mothers are shamed for accepting government assistance then shamed for finding a job where they can support themselves and their children without assistance.
Trujillo also offered some sound advice for anyone facing similar difficulties in their lives.
"When I was a kid my mom told me I was a mistake. When I was 13 my dad said I was trash. When I was 15 my English teacher told me I was gonna be nothing but a high school drop out."
"When I was 18, Tarrant County College Fire Academy denied my application and told me I'd never be a firefighter because I was a stripper."
"My ex husband told me I was never smart enough to go to college. My college professor told me I'd never be a welder. My old boss at the small town restaurant I worked at told me the day I quit, I'd never make it as a tow truck driver."
"My ex boyfriend told me I was never good enough to get into the fire academy. My instructor in the fire academy tried to make me quit because he said 'once a stripper always a stripper'."
"And today, I got my first uniform❤️"
"Point is, people will doubt you. Let them. Just don't ever doubt yourself. So, save your fork... this is just the beginning."
After seeing just how many people her post reached, Trujillo posted an update clarifying some things and thanking people for their support.
"When I posted this, I had no idea it would reach this many people. The messages and comments... you guys are amazing❤️ I posted it thinking only my fb friends/family, who have been with me the last 2 years while I've fought for this, would see it."
"To some people only 2 things stand out. Stripper and EMT."
"Let's hit the stripper part first. Sometimes in life, people are born into a world and life they can't control. With that being said, we become who we're created by. We become products of our environment."
"Being a single mom at 18, alone, hungry, and scared... I had no help. So, I did what I needed to do to take care of my daughter... and it did just that."
"I tried to make it the right way... but working at a home improvement store making $7 bucks an hour wasn't it. All that did was left us sleeping in my truck."
"When I applied for the Fire Academy, they wanted my employment information. So, it was either explaining the 'gap' or tell them the truth. I did what I felt was right. I told the truth."
"The admin looked at my application, snickered and said 'I'm sorry, there's no way I can accept this.' Then threw my application in the trash."
"So life went on. I let it go. I made my money, got my daughter and I into an apartment, then left stripping behind. In turn, I had my son, I found art, became a welder, which lead to becoming a tow truck driver."
"After 3 years of working crashes, I found myself wanting more for myself. Not just for me but for my kids, because they deserved a mom to be proud of."
"I decided to try for fire one more time. So I trained hard in the gym, running drills at the drill field, hours of studying... then I was finally accepted into the fire academy."
"After I graduated, of course, EMT is to follow. Then made the decision to move to Colorado for bigger and better departments."
"Although you may see an EMT uniform... I see the 6 months of working on an ALS ambulance. The 6 months I need to apply for one of the top paramedic programs in the country."
"But what you don't see is the interview I have at the end of the week for the first fire department I'll ever work for.... yes, this is the beginning. The beginning of an end to hard work, and the start of even more sacrifices I'll have to make to be a firefighter/flight medic one day."
"So let it be told once again... even though the doubt, my falls, the mistakes I made at 18 trying to just survive.. I kept going. Even when I wanted to give up. If I can do it.... so can you. This is your beginning... just like this is mine. #proud"
Response on Facebook was overwhelmingly positive, many congratulating Trujillo for her perseverance and will to succeed.
Some even shared similar stories of how they had overcome the same adversity to achieve their dreams.
Rae Trujillo is a true inspiration and we can all take a page from her book by believing in ourselves and overcoming the challenges we face in life.
It isn't where you start, it's where you end up.