Advertisement

Life After Gang Lu


Miya Rodolfo-Sioson was given a second chance at life. She was chosen for a purpose.

Miya was the lucky one. The odds had turned against her in an instant but reversed course just as quickly again.

Your faith tells you which of the above statements you believe, but the facts tell you this: Miya Rodolfo-Sioson was the lone survivor of the 1991 University of Iowa shootings. She was a temporary secretary—the victim of a dispute that didn’t involve her. By fate, by grace, or by luck she had a second life to live. She used it proudly.

Daniel Julien met Miya in that second life, lived mostly in Berkeley, California, where she’d moved to escape Iowa’s cold winters and the weight of the Gang Lu shootings. The woman Julien met there, paralyzed from the neck down since that awful November day, intrigued him for more than just the events that had defined her life.

“I didn’t know what to expect of a quadrapalegic doing demanding work,” Julien said of the woman he had hired to work at his student exchange program. “But she turned out to be capable of many things which able-bodied people are not.”

He decided to make a movie about her. Julien’s film, Miya of the Quiet Strength, shows April 12th at the Pappajohn Business Building on the UI Campus as part of a week commemorating her life. Other events include a photo exhibit, luncheon and outreach events, all of which are listed on the film’s website www.miyafilm.com.

Miya had been an activist as a young adult, before she was shot. But after landing in California, she became an advocate for the rights of the disabled. She spoke at community meetings on the issues important to her peers. She was appointed to the Berkeley Commission on Disability in 1998, where she served for eight years — two of them as chairperson.

“Everyone told her she was an inspiration,” said Julien. “She didn’t like that word. She called it the ‘i-word.’ But it’s hard to avoid it when you talk about her story.”

Miya Rodolfo-Sioson in classIt was years after they first met when Julien heard from a mutual friend the truth of what Miya called her “accident.”

“To me this event is like ancient history,” Miya told San Francisco’s KGO-TV in 2008, “There’s so much that’s happened since then.”

Not all of it was good. Shortly after Julien learned of the shooting, Miya told him she had cancer. That’s when he told her he wanted to make a film about her story. She accepted, even though she’d turned down offers from professional crews before.

For 13 months, Julien documented Miya’s activism in the Bay Area, sifted through the media archives of the incident and interviewed her friends and family. He dove into the issues that affected her life like disability rights, gun control and health insurance.

In March of 2008, he returned to Iowa City to learn more.

“I discovered so many things about her that she had never talked about,” Julien said. “Our culture is so much about bragging about things we’ve done… or didn’t do. She was the opposite of that.”

In Iowa City, Miya had organized student activists against the U. S. involvement in El Salvador, was interested in women’s rights and, when her rehab was complete, she had returned to finish her degree on the same campus that had been the scene of so much heartache.

When he was wrapping up the film, Julien got a call from Miya. She wanted to do one more interview. She wanted to talk about dying.

“It was difficult to shoot. She was very private, but had opened up during the filming,” Julian recalled.

The film was finished in November 2008. Julien held a special screening for Miya, her family and friends in the hospital where she was being treated for stage four breast cancer. Days later, Miya passed away.

In a message on the film’s website, her former Iowa City roommate, a woman named Suzanne, laments: “I have always felt that if I had been the victim, I probably would have drowned in bitterness and regret at what I had lost. But Miya refused to fall into that pit. She just got on with the job of living. I still find it hard to comprehend how, after overcoming such obstacles, she should have to endure [cancer, too].”

The fates. God. Chance. Whatever it was that dealt Miya Rodolfo-Sioson a cruel hand didn’t account for her resilient spirit. Quiet Strength documents a life lived beautifully under such trying circumstances.

“Miya never realized the impact she had on other people,” recalled Julien. “She underplayed the things she had done even though she had done a lot more than most of us.”

Forgive the viewers, Miya, if you’re called an inspiration.


[gravityform id="17" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper your-village-form_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_17' ><a id='gf_17' class='gform_anchor' ></a><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_17' class='your-village-form' action='/life-after-gang-lu/#gf_17'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_17' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_17_7' class='gfield gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><h3 style="font-weight:800; font-size:34px;">Let's get started</h3> <p style="font-size:18px;">Fill out this form and we'll contact you with information about marketing with Little Village!</p></li><li id='field_17_4' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' for='input_17_4_3' ></label><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name has_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_2 ginput_container_name gfield_trigger_change' id='input_17_4'> <span id='input_17_4_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_4.3' id='input_17_4_3' value='' aria-label='First name' tabindex='2' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='First name'/> <label for='input_17_4_3' >First</label> </span> <span id='input_17_4_6_container' class='name_last' > <input type='text' name='input_4.6' id='input_17_4_6' value='' aria-label='Last name' tabindex='4' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='Last name'/> <label for='input_17_4_6' >Last</label> </span> </div></li><li id='field_17_5' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_5' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_5' id='input_17_5' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='6' placeholder='Company name' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_17_3' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_3' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_3' id='input_17_3' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='7' placeholder='Your email address' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false"/> </div></li><li id='field_17_8' class='gfield gform_validation_container field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_8' >Email</label><div class='ginput_container'><input name='input_8' id='input_17_8' type='text' value='' /></div><div class='gfield_description'>This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.</div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_17' class='gform_button button' value='SUBMIT' tabindex='8' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; jQuery("#gform_17").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=17&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='17' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_17' value='WyJbXSIsIjlmNzc1YTEyZmZjNmYyODk5Mzk0NDM3ZjRlOGYyZDNmIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_17' id='gform_target_page_number_17' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_17' id='gform_source_page_number_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> <p style="display: none !important;"><label>&#916;<textarea name="ak_hp_textarea" cols="45" rows="8" maxlength="100"></textarea></label><input type="hidden" id="ak_js_1" name="ak_js" value="51"/><script>document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() );</script></p></form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_ajax_frame_17'>This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 17, 'https://littlevillagemag.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_17').load( function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_17');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_17').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').offset().top); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_17').val();gformInitSpinner( 17, 'https://littlevillagemag.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [17, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_17').offset().top);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [17]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_17').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> if(typeof gf_global == 'undefined') var gf_global = {"gf_currency_config":{"name":"U.S. Dollar","symbol_left":"$","symbol_right":"","symbol_padding":"","thousand_separator":",","decimal_separator":".","decimals":2},"base_url":"https:\/\/littlevillagemag.com\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope","number_formats":[],"spinnerUrl":"https:\/\/littlevillagemag.com\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope\/images\/spinner.gif"};jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 17) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, 1]) } ); </script>