Tell us about someone who has made a difference in your life.

I’ve lived with my grandparents all my life. My grandfather, whom I call “Pipo,” is like a father to me, and he is absolutely, no-doubt-about-it my favorite person in the world. He is intrigued by everything academic and has a photographic memory. He can do math in his head without pencil or paper and he knows about every incident in world history. All my life, he’s encouraged me to be the smartest person I can be. When I was five, he taught me how to read the poetry of José Martí. When I was 13, we memorized the capitals of all the countries in the world together. When I was 15 years old, Pipo made a comment in the car on our way to school that changed everything for me. As the radio news blared from the speakers, he absentmindedly remarked something along the lines of, “There are a million things happening in the world today, and every one of these stations only knows about Castro and what he ate for dinner yesterday.”

To understand how intensely his words affected me, you have to understand our relationship. I didn’t meet my biological father until I was seven years old, but, to me, Pipo is my real dad. Pipo was there for my piano recitals. He was there for every scraped knee and every paper cut with a bandage ready. When I...

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