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 first of six essays written by the scholarship winners.
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Growing up Hispanic in a river town has been quite an experience. I’ve been through difficulties. When I first came to Tarrytown, I loved it. I thought it was a beautiful, safe, small town with great schools that give the opportunity of a free education to student residents of Tarrytown. Socially, people are nice; they will smile at each other, which is something that I wasn’t expecting because back in my homeland we don’t usually greet people without knowing them or out of nowhere, but it felt good.
Coming from a Hispanic land without knowing English was one of my biggest fears. Even though I was a high honor student back in Puerto Rico, all my grades went down once I started school here. I wanted to go back to Puerto Rico. At least back there, I had plans. I knew where I was going to college, what I wanted to study, where I could start practicing for my future job, but all that was gone by the time I got here. I felt lost when it came to the school and had to do homework assignments that I didn’t even understand a word.
With the support of my family, teachers, and friends I started to improve my grades. It took me a while to learn English because at home my family and I just spoke Spanish and even my friends spoke to me in Spanish too. It wasn’t until I was placed in advanced courses that I realized all my effort and sacrifice wasn’t in vain and that I was improving academically. These experiences do not compare with non-immigrants because they haven’t gone through the struggle of trying to fit in a society which you are totally different from. For example, we start to dress like them, act like or listen to their music which is not wrong at all but is a culture that we are forced to embrace by coming to a new country. Changes that we, Hispanics went through, and those non-immigrants don’t have to face.
After four years of living here, I am grateful because now I’m bilingual and I have the opportunity of finding better jobs by knowing two languages. That’s why I consider myself lucky to be here. Now I know what I’m capable of and how far I can go in order to reach my goals. I know I want to go to college, graduate, find a good job that makes me happy and have a promising future.
Jaceline De Jesus was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She will be graduating from Sleepy Hollow High School in June and going to college. Jaceline is considering Mercy College, Manhattan College, New York Institute of Technology and Pace University. She plans on studying veterinary science.