Whats your story?: Wingate community helps Maria Cepeda cope with her loss

Kendall Sienon, Staff Writer

Wingate, N.C. — Life hands you lemons, throws you curve balls, and may knock you down. But it is how people deal with those adversities that make them truly incredible people. Most college students worry about finals or what they are going to wear that weekend. For some, life has different plans.

Maria Cepeda, a junior from Port Charlotte, F.L, faced one of the biggest challenges of her life—losing her father. “My father was very kind and loving,” says Maria, “he was non-judgmental and very accepting of everyone; he always had my best interest at heart.”

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Photo Source: Wingate Athletics

On February 18, 2017 Nicholas Fortunato left the world due to cancer that spread throughout his body. “I feel like a different person since he left, but I know he is watching over me and cheering for me as I go through life,” states Maria.

Growing up, Maria’s childhood was filled with lots of family and laughter. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Maria and her mother moved to the United States at age five.

They moved to Miami and that is where her mother met her new husband and Maria’s stepfather, Nicholas. “Even though he wasn’t my father by blood that didn’t stop him from loving me. My dad taught me a lot about life and was always helping me strive to be better and for that he is my biggest role model,” states Maria.

Losing her father has been the hardest thing Maria has had to do. He raised her from age seven and remained her primary parent after her mother and him divorced. It’s never easy to lose a parent, especially at a time when you need them most.

Maria’s reaction to this tragic event makes her an incredible person. She remains positive even when it gets hard. “I try to have a good attitude about things and realize that I can’t control everything. It could always be worse,” says Maria. She is happy to have loving friends and support system here at Wingate that is always there when she needs them.

Maria came to Wingate when her lacrosse coach recruited her to play here. She visited twice before making the decision to commit. “I fell in love with the area and the people,” says Maria, “It feels like home. it has been filled with lots of support and love from my teammates, friends, and the community.”  

Life is unpredictable and erratic, but people like Maria who face everyday as it comes despite whatever adversity there plagued with, are truly admirable people.

Edited by: Brea Childs

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