I am a Puerto Rican, born and raised in the Bronx, New York = New Yorican. If you know anything about Latinos, you know that we love being born into such a rich, colorful, and music-filled life. As a teen, I was even in a salsa dance group called Las Chicas Boriquas. That is super funny to me right now, but it was one of the best times I could remember as a teen. I absolutely love being a New Yorican!
I spent a lot of time as a teen trying to live the street life and unfortunately, it detoured me to a really rough time that was, well– self-induced. Shortly after starting the dance group, I started hanging with a very wrong crowd.
I moved out of my home at 14, thinking I knew what was best for me. If you can believe this utter ridiculousness, I dropped out of high school in February of my senior year–when I was due to graduate in JUNE! That is pretty crazy. I KNOW!
I could say I was a product of my environment, but I really just walked right into troubles. I mean, RIGHT into them head first. Regardless of the reasons that formed my choices, I quickly started facing the consequences of the decisions I had made. I eventually completed my senior year… over a year later. At that point, I knew I had to prevent myself from falling into the stereotype that was already laid out before me.
I heard about joining the military and that they would pay for your college. So, I signed up. It was that simple. No one had ever told me about financial aid, scholarships, or grants. I just thought if I had no money, then I couldn’t go to college. Before dropping out my senior year, I hardly remember even going to classes for more than two days a week. I don’t know how I even earned a passing grade, but I did. The system failed me, and I failed it.
Joining the military was my only chance to make it out of whom I was becoming. As soon as I was stationed at a base, I applied for college. Up until that time, I had not even read a full book. Seriously. I had to take every basic class imaginable and I purposefully chose to major in English–just so that I can learn to write well.
I started reading books, writing papers, and eventually discovered that I loved to write. Up until that time, I had never had an outlet to express my mind, my emotions, or my ideas. I was Jeannette from the Bronx, who didn’t really amount to much. However, my professors told me otherwise. I was even approached by one professor to publish a short story, which I never did of course.
I took courses in creative writing where I was able to let my imagination soar. I explored literature and writing from different perspectives and genres. I was in writing heaven and I yearned to do more of it.
Life got in the way and my dream of writing was halted for a while. However, my love for writing remained and never left. I earned my degree in English and later my Master in Business Administration. All while being a mom and working full time.
Why do I love writing so much? I love it because I was once a person who could have never discovered my passion, but the God of second chances gave me a second chance at my heart’s desire.
I hope to help teenagers discover their love for writing as well. I want to share the idea that they can put all their feelings on paper, leave their sadness, frustrations, and fears on that paper– and never look back. I also don’t want anyone to find themselves in adulthood and think they can’t get a second chance. It is possible. I am living proof.