By Celesta Hodges, BS Criminal Justice
After parents lose a child, it changes them forever. I will never forget the steady up-and-down motion of my 21-year-old son’s chest as the respirator sent oxygen to his lungs, allowing his organs to absorb the precious air that his own body could not obtain on his own. It was not the temperature of the ICU room that sent goosebumps down my arms, but the knowledge that this was the last time I would ever see my son alive. The test results came back and there was no hope for my son. It was time to turn off the machines, the only things holding my son’s life to this world. Isaac, our youngest of three children, was laid to rest only a few days later.
Our son was a gunshot victim, and there was very little evidence regarding his case. Our family had many questions concerning Isaac’s death and answers did not make themselves readily available. We did not know the legal procedures to expect or any options available to us that we could utilize to obtain justice for our son. As hope for finding answers began to fade, my daughter-in-law, or, as I like to call her, my daughter-in-love, a CSU graduate herself, pulled up the CSU course offerings and asked me, “if you were to go back to school, what major would you choose?” The criminal justice degree program immediately sparked my interest, and, before I knew it, I was enrolled in college. I am now in my senior year and only a few classes away from obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.
The decision to go back to school to earn a college degree was the best thing I could ever do for myself and those around me. I have not only learned basic information about our legal system, but I have also been challenged to conduct research that has allowed me to learn about complex issues relevant to my son’s case. Going back to school gives me a greater sense of purpose and allows me to focus on the future instead of living a stagnant life wallowing in self-pity. With this knowledge, I have already been able to reach out to and help others who have found themselves in similar situations.
After graduation, I plan on continuing my education through enrolling in CSU’s MBA program with the hope of creating the Isaac Hodges Foundation to provide monetary assistance to parents who must unexpectedly bury their children. There is a profound need for such a foundation. My husband and I never dreamed we would ever have to bury one of our children; this is simply a topic on which no one wants to contemplate. We were blessed to have friends, family and a supportive church family who were there for us in our time of need and were able to help us with our son’s final expenses, but some families are simply unable to raise the money they need when faced with a similar situation.
Since our loss, we have begun the Justice for Isaac Random Act of Kindness campaign in the form of ‘pass it on’ donations. For example, at fast food restaurants, we may pay for those behind us in line and ask the cashier to hand them one of our cards containing information on our background, our message and the campaign’s website. In turn, after receiving their free meal, we hope that they will pass on the card to someone else through performing a similar act of kindness.
Forming this campaign and planning my son’s foundation is a way for me to honor him and to help people in their times of need. It has been four years since my son has passed and I have become more compassionate and determined to help those in need. Although this determination took a great deal of time to foster, my future plans require me to have a sound knowledge of business and the criminal justice system. CSU has given me the opportunity and ability to realize these dreams and take them further than I could have imagined.