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Navajo Teens Make Tough Choices In 'Heartbreak'

Thomas Martinez stands in front of "The Wall," an inspirational collection of his accolades, at his father's house.
Thomas Martinez stands in front of "The Wall," an inspirational collection of his accolades, at his father's house.

Like many high school students, Thomas Martinez and Tamara Hardy dreamed of leaving for college and finding their futures away from home. But both grew up on a Navajo reservation and were torn, between those aspirations and their strong ties to their poverty-stricken community.

Martinez struggles to balance the needs of his family with plans to run track in college. Hardy wants to earn an engineering degree away from home, yet like many Native parents, her mother and father are reluctant to see her leave.

In a new documentary, Up Heartbreak Hill, director and producer Erica Scharf follows the two high school seniors as they struggle with the decision of whether to stay close to what they know or leave for new opportunities.

Scharf and Martinez join NPR's Neal Conan to talk about the documentary, which airs in July as part of PBS' POV series.

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