Sena's Extraordinary Story

Moving Forward and Healing Others

Since early in the morning, Sena has been giving love and attention to other people and activities—her 11-year-old son Zain; to her sickly, aging grandparents; to her education; to her plant-tending business. It’s her usual whirlwind, on-the-run day of activities in Tucson, Arizona.

Now, it’s late at night and she has just finished helping her son with his homework and putting him to bed. The 34-year-old single mother is exhausted and frazzled. Still, she manages a smile and says, “I guess my life has a theme.” Others might complain about that theme. Not Sena. Instead, she focuses on her future and a new theme in her life—living her dream.

A Positive Outlook

Sena continues to pursue her lifelong passion of helping people take their health into their own hands
Sena continues to pursue her lifelong passion of helping people take their health into their own hands.

“I am on a quest to live my dream to become a doctor of traditional Asian medicine,” she says. The vocation seems to fit. An organic “Mother Earth” type, with long flowing hair and a focused, yet gentle expression, Sena has her own business, caring for plants at hotels and banks. The work enables her to call her own hours so she can keep to a schedule that would defeat most people.

Sena has never let difficult times deter her. Perhaps it was instilled at birth when she had to fight for her life. Born prematurely at two pounds, she had seven blood transfusions and had underdeveloped organs. Because of too much oxygen while she she was in an incubator, the retinas in her eyes were damaged. She came home to an unstable mother, an alcoholic father, and a family so poor they often had no heat and sometimes used a hair dryer for warmth. Her grandparents took her in when she was 2, and Sena credits her grandmother with doing everything for her.

“She put me into gymnastics, swimming, tap dancing and playing the organ, all by the time I was 4,” Sena says with a laugh. “I guess that’s where I got my work ethic. I really never felt deprived at all.”

A Lifelong Passion

Today, Sena is using that work ethic to fulfill a lifelong passion for alternative medicine and a “desire to help people take health into their own hands,” she says. Upon finishing her associate’s degree at Pima Community College in Tucson, she plans to enroll in the Arizona School of Acupuncture. “I have four years there to complete my master’s,” she says, “and an additional two years to complete my doctorate.”

While in school, however, Sena faced even more challenges. She discovered she had a disability in her right eye.

I went for vocational rehabilitation testing and they found my reading level was very low. They couldn’t believe that I had a 4.0 grade point average and how I had managed. I never realized anything was wrong because I had been like this my whole life.

A Determined Woman

Sena with her 11 year old son, Zain
Sena with her 11 year old son, Zain.

Sena underwent eye surgery for a retinal detachment and while recovering, studied for finals. When she returned to school, she found some good news waiting: was selected to receive a Live Your Dream Award.

“I was really shocked,” Sena says of the award. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m just plugging along and not doing anything different or special. So many other people are out there. Are you sure it’s me?’ I guess it was the first time I was ever recognized for anything I was doing. I just bawled like a baby.”

Living Her Dream

Today, Sena continues to live her dream, with hard work, determination and a 24/7-schedule of activities. For women who are struggling to live their dreams, Sena has three words: “Just do it.” When asked how she does it, Sena answers matter-of-factly: “I just keep going. That’s what I do. My big thing is, I don’t look back. You can’t think about things too much. It can get overwhelming. And I don’t try to have regrets. I keep going forward.”

I’m living my truth and living my dream, and I feel so happy I can share that with others. I hope I can help inspire others. It makes me so happy I want to cry.

As to the Live Your Dream webisodes that feature her life, Sena feels honored, hoping her story will somehow inspire other women to live their dreams.


Soroptimist relies on the generosity of individuals like you to improve the lives of women like Sena. Your support gives women the help they need to overcome obstacles—like poverty, domestic and sexual violence, and addiction—and follow their education dreams.

Please consider donating. Your gift of $100, $50, or even $10 today will go a long way and will transform the lives of women in need!

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