Courageous senior Bronco overcomes incredible battle

Regardless+of+who+you+ask%2C+senior+Talia+Rockmacher+is+a+go-getter+and+a+survivor+just+trying+to+make+the+world+a+better+place+for+all.+

Photo courtesy of Talia Rockmacher

Regardless of who you ask, senior Talia Rockmacher is a go-getter and a survivor just trying to make the world a better place for all.

Daniela Botero, Co-Editor in Chief

Like most seniors, Talia Rockmacher has experienced the first day of high school, homecoming, earning community service hours, and numerous academic achievements.  Unlike most seniors, however, she has also conquered cancer. But no matter what obstacles life throws her way, Talia always seems to triumph over it with a smile. 

“When your life is threatened by something so scary, you learn to not waste a moment,” expressed Talia Rockmacher.

This vivacious Bronco was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and lived in the Boston area until she was two-years-old. She then moved to Trumbull, Connecticut, with her parents, two brothers (Zack and David), and sister (Sara) where they lived until she was 13. It was at this time that her family made their move to Wellington, Florida in order to be closer to the family’s grandparents. Before their big move, however, Talia had an experience that would alter her life forever.  

When Talia was 11-years-old, she came home from school with a piercing headache that lasted for days. As she visited various doctors and hospitals, confusion grew as no one could produce a diagnosis as to why the headache wouldn’t subside. One evening, after having an MRI scan, doctors located an astrocytoma brain tumor in her cerebellum. According to the Mayo Clinic, this type of cancer begins in cells called “astrocytes,” which support nerve cells and can form in either the brain or in the brain or spinal cord.   Fortunately, for Talia,  doctors performed surgery and were able to remove 80 percent of the tumor.  

It was a long journey back, however, for Rockmacher.  While other 11-year-olds were running around on playgrounds and swimming at the beach, Talia had to learn how to walk again and used a walker for months as she went through intensive physical therapy. While she occasionally deals with a lack of balance and neck pain, she is happy to report that she has been cancer and tumor-free for six years now.

This insane and life-changing experience has allowed her to grow up and mature faster than most others her age because it gave her a new perspective. While this traumatizing time may seem scary, Talia believes that it taught her to not take life for granted and to always make the most out of every situation.

 “The most important takeaway from all of this is to be kind to everyone,” Talia noted. “You never know what people are dealing with behind closed doors. I try to be kind to everyone I meet and uplift everyone.”

Because of her mature attitude, Talia gained interest in pursuing harder classes and a more rigorous course load by adding AICE classes to her schedule. She has taken multiple AICE classes from AICE Environmental Management to AICE Media Studies, and has already earned her AICE Diploma despite still suffering from neck pain, dizziness, and balance issues. Rockmacher has also enrolled in classes at Palm Beach State College to get even more college credits under her belt. 

To put it simply, Talia gets things done,” said friend Dennis Vink, a freshman at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. “She is more than determined, she is passionate and when she is passionate about something she will push herself and those around her to accomplish the goal.” 

Not only does Rockmacher work hard in a classroom setting, but she is also very involved after school as well. Talia is a member and board member of Central’s Jewish Student Union. Outside of school, she is a member of the Jewish Youth program NCSY, or the National Conference of Synagogue Youth. This group connects teens to their Jewish identity through various social actions, organizes trips to Isreal, and offers guidance to empower them to become leaders of the Jewish faith. She also serves as the president of the Social Action committee where she puts together various volunteer activities for NCSY members. 

“Becoming friends with Talia has been such an incredible experience for me,” explained Tamar Vann, a friend of Talia’s since they attended Florida Atlantic University High School. “She’s so inclusive and loving and always makes everyone feel happy and comfortable.  Talia is one of those people that just lights up a room when she enters, her huge smile and positivity are contagious.”  

It’s no secret to those who know Talia, she is also very committed and proud of her faith. In the past, she has gone to Israel to teach kids with autism, IDF soldiers with PTSD, and teens in a foster home how to surf. Even through the pandemic, Rockmacher ploughs through to help others.  She is looking forward to her trip to Naples, Florida to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity with the rest of her youth group.  

“I grew up in a traditional Jewish home where we light Shabbat candles every Friday and love to eat bagels,” Talia noted. “I am blessed to have a wonderful family who loves and supports me so much.”  She went on to explain that the candles are to commemorate her grandparents who are Budapest Holocaust survivors.

It’s also apparent that Talia is a very family-oriented person who is proud of her grandparents and especially her grandmother. Her grandmother had to endure many hardships like becoming a mother figure to her sister at a young age, surviving both the Hungarian revolution and the Holocaust, escaping to America, and so much more. At 80 years old, Talia’s grandmother goes around the world sharing her experiences and teaching others about how to stand up for themselves and fight for what is right. When speaking with Rockmacher, it quickly becomes apparent how much she admires her grandmother who taught her courage, love, and independence as well as the strength to fight for what she believes in.

“Throughout her whole life, she has faced antisemitism, religious persecution, sexism, death, love and loss,” Talia explained about her grandmother. “She has never given up her faith or hope.  She does not have self pity or any bitterness in her heart, in fact, she uses her experiences to teach the next generations and spread love instead. She is a fierce, independent woman who is the definition of strength. My grandmother always says that her revenge on Hitler is her children and grandchildren.”

In addition to her parents and grandparents, her family includes brothers Zack, 26, and David, 15 and a sophomore at Central, her sister Sara, 22 and a recent graduate of Arizona State, and her dog, Brisket.

As for the future, Talia would like to major in pre-law, communications, or journalism and eventually go into law school. She sees a political future for herself as either a member of Congress or working in the White House.     She has applied to several top Florida universities and a few out of state. Her top choice is the small, private Yeshiva University, a Jewish school where she would like to continue her Judaic studies.  For her freshman year in college,  however,  she plans to enroll in a seminary in Israel’s Meorot Yerushalayim. Aside from all her professional goals, her personal goals do include being a mother with “a bunch of dogs.”

“Life is too short to be mean or have self pity,” Talia explained her outlook on life. “I now spend my time volunteering, fighting antisemitism, and always trying to challenge myself to do better.”

For more information on astrocytoma:  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/astrocytoma/cdc-20350132#:~:text=Astrocytoma%20is%20a%20type%20of,the%20brain%20or%20spinal%20cord.