"I needed something to make me think … if it wasn't for this I probably would still be in involved with gangs, or have got shot or arrested," she said. "I just feel really lucky because God gave me a second chance."
To juvenile hall and back
She was angry.
A rival gang member had "disrespected" her in front of her little sister. Barely 16, she was already known as a member of a Costa Mesa gang.
In a haze of rage, she changed into a white T-shirt and grabbed a butter knife from the kitchen.
She went to find the girl.
Once she found her, she grabbed her by the hair and started the fight. Eventually she pulled the knife out of a back pocket and slashed the girl, continuing to fight as blood dripped onto her arm and stained her shirt, she recalled in an interview.
When she got home, she knew she was going to be arrested. But she didn't care. Instead, she boasted about it.
"I started writing on MySpace, 'I'm getting arrested. Write to me,'" she said. "I was proud of it."
She was still filled with pride as police arrested her at her home and, later on, as she watched her parents crying at the station.
It wasn't until she was sitting alone in her room in juvenile hall that the gravity of the situation overwhelmed her.
Alone, she became depressed, refused to eat, and the tears started coming. It was then that she repented for all of the choices she had made.
"I'd have those flashbacks, like bang, bang, of all those mistakes I've made and I would say, 'Why would I want to be a follower? Why didn't I just do my own thing?'"
Something told her to change and get her life together.