Mi Orgullo--My pride

How has your family history, culture or environment influenced who you are?

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...

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