On Veterans’ Day 2002, a future artist weighing only two pounds made her way into the world. That artist was me, and that day was the beginning of an unpredictable journey into the open waters of life. The first length of the journey was choppy with my mother’s fear of losing her baby girl. Yet I was able to sail right through the storm, surviving my days in the NICU without any tubes or machines. Although I don’t remember my first days in this world, I view my beginnings as a reflection of how I steer through life. The guidance of my family history gifts me the traits of love, hope, and positivity that help me stay on course through the rocky seas of life and continue my creative endeavors to aid the weary.
I come from a family of strong women who have been fundamental in shaping me into the person I am today. My grandmother was born as one of 14 children in the Puerto Rican countryside. Growing up in poverty, she had to leave high school to support her family as a seamstress. My grandma lived a humble life, yet it was still brighter than the island sun, and her willingness to help those in need bled into the soul of my mother, who moved to the states for radiant opportunities at 18 years old. However, a seismic shift later on shook my mom’s life, when she was forced to live in the housing projects of Edgewood, Maryland, along with my older sister and grandma. Despite all the crime and fear that surrounded her, she still held on to her Joan of Arc spirit by working three jobs while studying. My mom’s perseverance and positivity led her to achieve a Master’s degree in Computer Science, and my family was able to move out of the projects and into the much safer haven of Friendship Heights. Even when their path appeared cloudy, my mom and grandma never lost their inner sunlight.
It is my family’s resilience that has influenced who I have become as my voyage sailed into my teenage years. Since a young age, my joy would leap like a whale jumping out of the sea when I found a way to illuminate the lives of the disadvantaged, such as building holiday care packages for the homeless. But then a category five hurricane hit my ship during high school, and the thrust into a competitive and privileged environment spawned enormous waves of debilitating emotions. Despite these challenges, I became my own Caroline Abbott, using my family’s story of survival to steer through the storm. My perseverance and desire to use my creativity to help others propelled me through those arduous times; at my school’s Diversity Forum, my short story served as a glimmer of hope to those who might have been in those same choppy waters. I also penned an illustrated
letter for an English girl with a rare degenerative disease who had suddenly lost hope to uplift her spirits. My creative work not only strived to help others, but it was also part of my process for overcoming and keeping hold of my family’s values no matter how angry the sea may be.
My heart is full of gratitude for my family’s sacrifices. I know I can always count on their love and support as I keep making advances in my voyage. I have learned from my family that if we seek our life’s purpose, we can reach the coastline of our goals and dreams. It is my dream to make an impact in the world through creativity that helps people find light, no matter how gloomy the weather. Whether it is writing a story or illustrating, I want nothing more than for my quiet, resilient, and creative personality to uplift our sinking world.