UC San Diego Grad with MD Won’t Stop Fighting for His Dreams

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

UC San Diego


Raul Carranza was born in Chula Vista 27 years ago. The recent graduate in political science from the University of California San Diego, and future law student,  is one of the university’s most heralded students.

Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy (MD) at the age of two, and by his third birthday mobile only with a wheelchair, the little boy who never gave up, grew up instead to shock everyone by writing blog posts and A+ essays with only his right thumb, the only muscle he can still control on his own.

UC San Diego

Credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

According to a recent story published on the university‘s website, despite Caranazza’s inability to move  his limbs, swallow, breathe on his own or even blink, he never stopped pursuing his goals. One of UC San Diego’s most outstanding graduates of 2016, Caranazza hopes to someday run for public office.

The latter resulted from a three-year long battle he faced with the Californian judicial system.

Caranazza was a student at UCLA in the fall of 2010 when he had to drop out because of state cuts on Medi-Cal budgets, which reduced the services he needed to attend classes.

Instead of quitting altogether, Caranazza became an activist for himself and thousands of others  impacted by the cuts by helping organize demonstration sand protests.

He then took the case to court and won, regaining his right to receive 24-hour care and his ability to apply to the university again, this time choosing political science at UC San Diego in the fall of 2014.

He felt like the court’s decision was beneficial for him but not for everyone else: “while this is a great result for me, it does nothing for anyone else. Countless others will have to go through the same thing and they might not be as lucky as I was. They might not have awesome friends and family or great lawyers. Yes I won, but nothing has changed. I still want to change something,” Caranazza  wrote on his blog.

That’s when he decided he would attempt to run for office one day, so he could really make a difference: “I want to make things a little bit easier for people with disabilities and people without them,” he said.

Nathan Fletcher, a Professor in the Department of Political Science who is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a former California assemblyman, was impressed by Carranza’s dedication, intelligence and tenacity. Knowing Carranza was a student with special needs, Fletcher was immediately impressed by his determination, level of participation in classes and even his views on certain issues.

“At first I thought, this is nice that we are going to accommodate him, but it was a really eye-opening experience,” Fletcher said in the news story reported by Christine Clark, UC San Diego.  “Raul may communicate in a different way, how he gets to the class is different, but there is no limitation to what he can do… He never had any excuses. It was clear he was saying, ‘I am a student. I am here to learn. I am smart’.”

According to theUC San Diego internet news story, when Carranza was asked about what would he say to students who might also struggle to finish studies he replied:  “Be uncomfortable. Force yourself. Put yourself in a situation that you’ve never been in before and learn how to overcome the fear. When you stay in a bubble the whole time, you won’t get the most out of the experience.”


UC San Diego