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Having been born and raised in the multicultural hub that is Miami, I was always in the midst of so much diversity. Growing up, I was immersed in my hispanic roots. Arroz con pollo y frijoles, rice with chicken and beans, was a staple in my Cuban-Colombian home, and I was always surrounded by my family. We danced at parties to Sonora Carruseles and ate croquetas, arepas, and drank cafecitos. Until the age of five, Spanish was the only language I spoke.
My mother had come to the United States back in the 70s, and my father was a Miami native, born to Cuban-Italian parents. Neither of my parents attended college, but I grew up knowing the importance of an education. I remember vividly in the fifth grade when I watched my dad face a devastating layoff. I shared in his heartbreak the day he came home and told us he had been fired due to budget cuts and outsourcing, and I shared in his desperation throughout the three years that passed when he was unable to find a steady job. During that time, he made sure I understood the significance of a degree. The one thing that set him apart from his counterparts was his lack of education. My mother, on the other hand, was a licensed esthetician, the result of attending a trade school here in Florida. She was one of the first in her family to get a post-secondary education.
Throughout my entire life, they have been my pillars. My parents have always encouraged me to learn, to read, to constantly expand my horizons, and to outwork everyone else. My parents may have never achieved a college degree, but when I look back on their history, on the struggles they and my grandparents faced, I am amazed at how far they’ve truly come. My parents have molded me into the person I am today because they understood the importance of an education. Their stories humble me, and their dedication inspires me to run faster, to go farther, to work harder, and to most importantly never forget my home in Hialeah which has given me so much.
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