I was born in Barahona, south of the Dominican Republic and came to New York City at the age of 8. The youngest child of four children. My parents are first generation immigrants.

Growing up was a challenge because of the language barrier. The language barrier was not between myself and my parents, it was mostly between my calling and the rest of the English-speaking country, or the world.  I knew from a very young age what I wanted to be in life.  Music is the only language my heart understands.

As a now bilingual child, I did a lot of translating for my parents and was too young to understand the hardship on their end. Their inability to communicate their hopes and dreams in a new country resonated with me.  I took notes.

I am very proud of being Latina and I learned to look beyond stereotypes from a very young age. I've always believed that a person's character is what's important, not their race, creed or skin color. Or better yet, the challenge of immigrating to a foreign county with four children and not being able to speak a new language. This is very real.

Watching my parents wish to speak fluent English quickly fueled my passion to continue my studies and make something of myself, in English. lol

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I embarked on the mission to learn English. I wanted to understand it, speak it fluently, feel it, and enjoy the gift of coming to a country filled with the opportunities my parent didn't have in their youth.

My parents wanted more opportunities for their children so life wouldn't be as challenging as it was for them when I was growing up.

My parent sheltered their children with love, affection and Dominican cooking.  When the smell of my mother's cooking permeated our city apartment, we felt loved. When there was something to be sad about, we always had each other. Latin families are very tight and we can have our own parties in our very own living rooms and backyards. Some of us have very large families and we really enjoy each others company. We have a great time!

My family and Latin culture has taught me to fight and not give up so easily. Things may appear easy from the outside, but you never know what the next person is going through. I learned how to be compassionate with myself and others. My family is compassionate with me. When I had a cold or was stricken with Breast Cancer, my family was always there to comfort me.

My parents love gave me the foundation to find my voice. I enjoy reading, writing songs, singing in English and Spanish. I am so grateful for both of my tongues. I am outspoken and driven because of the obstacles my parents had to face.

Knowing how important it was for my parents to have their children get an education gave me the fire to complete a higher education.  As I got older, I also realized that I also did it for me.

No one can take education away from you,  Once you get your degree, an enormous pride sets in you knowing what your parents strived for all these years.

I studied Literature in College mainly because I was fascinated with the English language and was fascinated by people from all walks of life. I felt that my degree was my parents gift to me.

The love from my parents and the richness of my Latin culture provided me with the strength to overcome many obstacles. I've become resilient as a result of this. Many ask how I do it and how do I handle discouragement. It's difficult to summarize in a sentence.

All I can say is learn to know who you are and what drives you. Keep moving forward no matter what. and don't you ever quit for quitting is the easiest part of your journey.

You were born to win! Alegria!

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