She was a typical 8 year old growing up in California when her mother had a full-blown psychotic break. She and one of her brother’s were dropped at a trailer park with some uncooked pasta and a box of raisins. Her mom disappeared and reappeared repeatedly until her dad gained full custody. When Dad remarried a women who had no interest in his children, Sheryl was put in foster care.

Kicked out of foster homes again and again mostly because she panicked, Sheryl felt threatened and often fought back even when the situation was safe. Her previous trauma left her with the perception that everything was dangerous.

Sheryl managed to graduate from an alternative high school while homeless. She got a job, rented an apartment, and started college. When she found herself pregnant at 19, she dropped out of college and went to a shelter. With the help of a financial aid package for single moms, she started community college. A sociology degree, biology degree and a master’s degree in education led Sheryl to teach high school biology for 8 years. This is a success story — a story full of hope and inspiration. Any yet, there is more.

Sheryl dreamed of being a doctor. She took night classes, volunteered at medical facilities and was finally accepted to medical school at the age of 31. She was married, raising 3 kids. The school she was accepted to was in the Caribbean. Medical school alone is a giant undertaking without a family, an international move, and a late start. The good news: Sheryl already knows how to do hard things.

Today Sheryl Recinos is a mom, wife, physician, writer, community volunteer, and activist. Each chapter of her story shaped the tenacity with which she would take on the next chapter. Her understanding of childhood trauma and homelessness gives her a completely different perspective on treating patients, the capacity to educate her fellow physicians, and the drive to make a difference in our world.

Stories, real-life stories are full of inspiration. Walking through other’s struggles and watching them overcome what seems insurmountable leaves me motivated to write the next chapter of my story. Stories connect us, help us understand our place in the world, and even reveal to us who we are.

Find some inspiring stories of what our fellow humans are doing, overcoming, becoming and let their stories influence your own.