Geoffrey’s Story

Geoffrey, a lanky adolescent with a baseball cap on his head, looks back at the camera, smiling broadly. He stands in a high mountain desert landscape with mountains rising up in the distance.

Independent Identity Founder and Executive Director Jenna Taylor’s passion for working with teenagers and adults with autism began in high school when she was involved in a class called “Peer Buddy”.

There she met her friend Geoffrey Zaragoza. Geoffrey was born with an enlarged heart, although this was not known by his family. At 18 months old Geoffrey was diagnosed with a seizure disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder- PDD-NOS.

Geoffrey loved fishing, Mountain Dew, and assisting his dad with the cross country and track teams as manager. Geoffrey had so many special gifts that far outweighed any of his limitations. He was funny, and quite a comedian! He never met a stranger and left everyone he encountered with a smile.
In December 2003, Geoffrey’s great big heart stopped beating and he passed away. After this devastating loss, Jenna made the decision to study special education after graduation. Since then, Geoffrey continues to be a guiding light in Jenna’s life and is the inspiration for Independent Identity.