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The Carpinone family, owners of Dwyer & Michael’s Funeral Home in Tarrytown, has established a scholarship for Hispanic students at Sleepy Hollow High School. This is the second of six essays written by the scholarship winners.
Ever since I joined the Dual Language program, I quickly settled and grew comfortable. I felt included, and the community couldn’t have been more welcoming. I’ve never met people who have seen Hispanics as a minority, but rather my nationality was seen as “awesome.” Everyone’s heritage contributes to their personality and who they grow up to be. I wouldn’t trade mine for another.
I believe everyone needs a little spice in their life, that is what my Ecuadorian heritage is for me. The food, the clothing, the music, all of it has been engraved in my bones and will follow me wherever I go. There are certain quirks in the Ecuadorian heritage, but these quirks are shared with the entire Hispanic community. From being called “mija” to the large family parties that last until 3 in the morning, to how my grandma persuades me that VapoRub cures everything. I haven’t seen a heritage or community similar to those of Hispanic origin.
I learned from a very young age that everyone at my family reunions was family, even if they weren’t my blood relatives. I quickly came to the conclusion that I should treat everyone with kindness and treat my friends as if they were family. I was also taught to protect and advocate for my own, and I have. As the president of the Latin American Student Organization, I have advocated for an increase of Hispanics in accelerated classes. I want Hispanics to feel comfortable in their environment, as I felt while growing up in this river town called Sleepy Hollow.
Identity has always been a tricky subject matter but being Latina has definitely shaped me into who I am today. I am a seventeen-year-old optimist who wants to pursue law in the future. I was given the gift of Hispanic ancestry and I am proud to know that I will one day be a role model for all the young Hispanic girls who need one. Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced the discriminatory challenges of being Latina, but none of them were in this town. As a Hispanic woman, I have been able to fluently translate from English to Spanish and vice versa, especially at my job. I know that in other parts of the world, I will experience challenges, but Sleepy Hollow and my heritage have shaped me to be fierce with every obstacle I come across. I thank everyone for that.