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From A Dark Past, A Bright Future Emerges:
Bridgeport Student Overcomes Challenges
by Evan Monroe

Sometimes, during low tide along the shoreline, a gust of dead fish mixes with the smell of sewage from a nearby transfer station, creating a retched cocktail of thick, sticky air. But when the sun goes down, Siberon says there are worse things to worry about.

"I didn't want anything to happen to my kids," Siberon explains. "I know what happens 'cause I used to be a part of it. There was violence, a lot of it. We'd hear gunshots from the house, see fights, drugs and whatever, but I think the most important thing is to show your kids morals. Teach them right from wrong. "

And that's exactly what she did. Siberon remembers teaching her son at an early age the dangers of drugs, to respect other people and their belongings, to never hit women and, most importantly, that college would be his pathway to success. "I told him from square one that I expected him to go to college, so that by the time he was a senior in high school, it was already kind of programmed," she said.

Victor's family lived in Evergreen Apartments off of Fairfield Avenue for three years, and in 1991 his mother gave birth to another baby girl, Bianca Cruz. That was right around the time things started getting more complicated with his other sister, Amanda, who had been diagnosed with a serious heart murmur at birth. The condition required that she have a new pacemaker installed every time she outgrew the old one . From the time she was born until she was 18, Amanda had six open heart surgeries.

Although the surgeries were covered by the state healthcare plan for children, Siberon still had to leave her job frequently to bring Amanda to the hospital. She says Amanda's condition was stressful, time consuming, and prevented her from maintaining a steady job. "It was really, really hard for us," she says. "I was bouncing around everywhere."

But Santos understood why his mother was so busy. "She would always tell me how much she loved me, or how she wishes things for us were better, but mostly just stressed the importance of my commitment to education. That's what she said would make things better for me," Victor recalled.

When Santos was in seventh grade, his family moved again, to another small, three-bedroom apartment complex on the corner of Washington and Park avenues called The Hollow in Bridgeport's North End. He and his family live there today. He says there are crack heads all over the streets, crack houses around the corner from their house, and frequent drug raids.