Chapter One: Who were you?
I was born on October 26, 2007 at 4:54am. My initial birthdate was supposed to be November 25-28, but I was born a month early. However, that's never really affected me or changed how I see myself. I was always a calm baby, I barely cried, and I loved to sleep all day. When I was 10 months old, my mom really wanted me to be active, so I started going to swimming lessons every Sunday. Ever since then, I have had a passion for and love of swimming. Even though I am an only child, I have always had a full house. I grew up with 2 parents and lived in a house of 12 people. I never really knew what I wanted to be until I was 5. The first thing I ever wanted to be was a mermaid like Ariel. I guess the swimming lessons got in my head! When I was 5, I also started to take ballet lessons, so I wanted to be a mix of a ballerina and a mermaid at the same time. I referred to myself as Angelina the Ballerina.
My family is initially from Apatzingan, Michoacan, which is located in Mexico. The first time I ever visited was when I was only a few months old. My grandma had taken me because she wanted for me to always have memories and learn about our background. Apatzingan is super hot-- it's about 87 degrees and up everyday-- but it honestly feels like 100 degrees. Before 2020, the last time I went to Apatzingan was in July 2010. My great-grandma had passed away and it was hard for my mom to go back. My mom said that she also didn’t want to go because her grandma taught her everything and, without her there, she really saw no point in going. My mom still wanted me to travel and experience life so, before the age of 7, I had gone to Las Vegas, Disneyland, and, of course, Mexico. Ever since I can remember, I have always loved traveling, seeing new spaces, and creating memories with my family.
When I was around the age of 8, my parents separated and my dad moved out of the house. This took a big toll on me at the time. I was upset my parents weren’t together, and I was thinking, “Will I see my dad again?” Of course I saw my dad, but my parents didn’t have a good relationship at the time. They were fighting a lot and not getting along, and, at the time, I felt like I was some toy being taken away from one another. At this time, I was also getting bullied at school. I had gained a lot of weight in second and 3rd grade, I would cry at home, and I hated the way I looked. I was going through a lot of things and my mom decided that I might need to talk to someone, so I started to go to therapy every Thursday. It has been more of a space where I can just relax and just not worry about my surroundings. Of course I would talk about what's bothering me, but most of the time I was doing other activities. This helped a ton when I was younger and I was usually in a much better place after I ended my sessions.
After my parents, therapy, and bullying, I was finally done with third grade. That honestly felt like one of the longest times of my life just because of all of the events that happened. I was now in 4th grade and I was nervous because I was just one step closer to being done with elementary school. I was doing really well in soccer and I started to become better friends with more people. I honestly had a little trio friend group in 4th grade. Now that I look back at it, it's really shocking that I stayed friends with them because we all treated each other horribly. When I was in 4th grade, I went back to Mexico, but instead of going to Apatzingan, I went to Puerto Vallarta. My mom and I went for a few days because it was my birthday weekend. We stayed at an amazing resort, and it was just the 2 of us. For as long as I can remember, my mom and I have always had a really close bond. Whenever I've needed her, she has been there for me through all these turning events in my life. She has always been my rock.
I don’t really have any memorable moments from 4th grade but I know that I was going through a really ‘toxic’ and complicated friendship. I was doing pretty well in all my classes and I definitely had improved since 3rd grade. The progress continued to 5th grade. I have always thought that being in 5th grade was so cool and that I was so excited to be in it. I had found a new group of friends in 5th grade and I was becoming a better person. I was obviously still doing soccer and I remember that I thought of it as one of the most important things ever.
I went to New York for my 10th birthday, and it has to be one of the best experiences of my life. I went with some of my aunties, my grandma, and my mom. I went to Times Square, walked around, and had some of the best times with my family. My family and I have had an amazing bond. I can talk with them about anything, and they support my decisions. That trip really made me realize how much my family means to me and how that's something nobody can ever replace. I also can't remember a lot about school that year, but I know that it was one of the best & worst years that I’ve ever had.
There was a contest in my class about who could say speeches at graduation, only 3 people were chosen, and I submitted my speech. To my surprise, I was chosen to give a speech! I was so proud of myself because I really wanted to say something so that I could say a little about myself and so people would know that I wasn’t just a regular student. On my graduation day, I was so proud that I was able to walk up on a stage and graduate elementary school. I got up early so I could curl my hair & take a shower. It took me 3 hours to get ready...I know, I know, why so long? But that's a story for another time.
I showed up at school and we had some quiet reading time. I walked in and everybody stared at me because I showed up 30-45 minutes late. The graduation went amazingly fast, it was really sad, I cried a few times that day. I learned a lot from elementary school and I’ve had a lot of struggles leading up to it.
Chapter Two: How have you grown as a scholar?
One subject I have been struggling with since I was little is Math. For as long as I can remember, I have struggled to comprehend or even focus on math overall. When I was in kindergarten and first grade, I was pretty good with my numbers and I learned how to add and subtract pretty quickly. However, when I got to 3rd grade, that's when my math skills really went down. I was always behind, unlike the other students, and I would spend hours trying to figure out little problems. My teacher and mom saw that I was struggling a lot, so they ended up putting me into a tutoring group. At first, I hated the idea because I felt different than the others. I had to go after school instead of having a full afternoon to myself, and I felt really dumb at the time.
When I went to my first class, I barely participated because I always felt I was wrong about one thing or I wasn’t going to get the answer right. It wasn’t until a few classes that I really started to participate in class and I also really started to engage more after I got more comfortable. I did around 10-15 classes of tutoring and after those classes, I was not only caught up with my whole class, but I also got a certificate that said I completed these classes. After that, I really did engage more with my math classes and I definitely practiced on my own more. I obviously still struggled from time to time, but I never had to tutor ever again.
When I got to F.S.A, I did struggle with my math classes at first, but the way I really practiced and understood the material was to either study on what I didn’t understand or I just go over stuff with my mom because she's really good at math. When I took my first standardized MAPtest for math, my score was 218. When I saw that score I was disappointed with myself because I felt it was really low and I knew I could've done better. I knew I wanted to do better on my next standardized test for math, so the next semester I knew I wanted to get a score of 222-230 and the only way I was going to do it was to really focus on what my struggles were and practice it more outside of school. I was able to do it! I had gotten a 224 on my next standardized test for math. I was so proud of myself because I had a goal and after practicing and really focusing, I had done it. When it was my 7th grade year, I wanted to get a score higher than 224. For some reason math class was easier for me to understand and comprehend in 7th grade, so I knew I could do it. When we took our first standardized test in 7th grade, I was nervous but very confident that I could get a score higher than before. I got a 227 on my standardized test for math. I was very proud of myself that I beat my score and had improved like I wanted to.
However, we found out we had to go into quarantine and start online school, I was excited at first because I thought online school was going to be easier than in person. That was not the case. Online school hit me like a truck. I was struggling to turn in my math assignments, and I had no motivation at all. I didn’t have the best grade assignment in math, but we had a test at the end of the year and I was able to boost my grade up to a B+. Now, I am an 8th grader, and wow it feels crazy saying that! I have really been focused to have an A or A+ in math. My goal was to turn in all my work and just focus more on my grades overall. We couldn’t take our first standardized test in early 8th grade because we were in quarantine and it was going to be a struggle. So, we technically took our first standardized test for all 3 subjects in the first few weeks of February and I honestly didn’t have a goal for this test. All I knew is that I didn’t want to get below a score of 225, and for these tests you can’t really practice or anything like that. All I knew was that I could try my hardest for these tests, and that is exactly what I tried to do, my best on the tests. I can’t remember the exact score I got but I think I got a 227-231, which I was very happy because I got more than what I wanted.
Overall, I’ve had a great deal of growth in math. I went from being in tutoring and not being able to focus, to doing okay in math, but still not doing my greatest, and now I have an A+ in math and I feel I'm doing the best I can.
Chapter Three: How have you grown as a person?
I remember that when I was going into 6th grade, I was nervous. I knew that this was a way different school and I didn’t know one person there. My mom told me I would make friends, but the whole idea of going to a completely different school and having a way different system scared me. I didn’t want to leave my mom for the retreat because I had flashbacks of elementary school: people leaving me out, talking bad about my appearance, and overall feeling judged. I know that sounds a little kiddish or babyish, but my mom was always there for me no matter what. I could count on her for anything.
I had a fear of heights so when we got to the retreat place, it wasn’t at all for what I was expecting. I ended up making friends at the retreat and as soon as that happened, I felt a weight off my shoulders. I wasn’t confident with myself in 6th grade at all. I also felt that I was very shy & anxious when I first met new people. As I slowly started introducing myself to others and getting over my fear of speaking out loud, I was able to be more confident with my voice. I did get myself in a little bit of drama in 6th grade and that's why people thought I was “mean” or “loud”. I was the complete opposite-- I was shy and kind. F.S.A has really taught me the voice that I have and I’m very grateful for that. I honestly did have a phase for a while for when I thought it was cool to be “mean”. Now that I look back, I’m very disappointed with myself, I know what it feels like to be brought down.
I have changed since then, I am trying to be kind to my classmates. I’m trying to understand that if someone is treating you differently, you have a voice, but you need to use it in the right way. That's one way I’ve changed a lot. I think before I speak and try to include someone's feelings before doing something. Yes, I still argue and go over the top sometimes but that's just who I am. Now I'm very proud of the person I've become. I've changed my mentality, and I’m working on myself.
Chapter Four: What are your talents/passions?
One of the first passions that I ever felt was soccer. I started to play soccer when I was in the 3rd grade. At first, I didn’t want to do it AT ALL. I tried to stop my mom from taking me to my first practices, and I didn’t even want to give it a try. However, my mom said I didn’t have to go again if I didn’t like it & if I did like it, then I could keep going. Of course, my mom was right, and I ended up enjoying soccer. I play every position on the soccer field, but for some reason the defender position just stood out to me. I played middle-field and goalie when somebody couldn’t make it, but defender was always my number one spot.
This was one of my biggest passions because I put all of my effort and strength that I could when I was on the field. I was also able to just be free on the field, I didn’t have to worry about people at school, and I didn’t have to worry about any of my concerns. I just let everything go on the field, I was free, with air pushing past my hair, and me just letting go. Soccer also helped me lose a lot of weight, which really increased my confidence and how I see myself. Soccer was and still is important to me because it helped me with my overall look and it gave me a space to be free.
On my soccer team, I had to be a leader for my team. I had to encourage them to try hard, and sometimes I had to lead practices so I could help out my teammates. I've had to be a leader for my little cousins when they need help with their homework and we're fighting with one another. I've had to be a leader for my friends when we were all not in a good space with one another and needed to resolve our problems. I’ve had to be a leader for my classmates when they weren’t paying attention and I had to quiet everyone down. I’ve had to be a leader for myself because I have learned not to be a follower and to focus on myself most of the time.
Chapter Five: What does it all mean for your family?
My dad is very happy to see the person that I have become and the person that I have blossomed into. He said, “ From seeing Angela Mia as a 3 year old inside of the daycare room, and now seeing her as a successful 8th grader, I couldn’t be any happier or prouder.” My dad and I have gone through a lot of rough times. We couldn’t see each other as we were separated from one another for a few months.. My dad never got the opportunity to go to an amazing school like F.S.A or one of the best high schools like S.I. When I was talking to him, he told me, “Angela Mia’s mom went through a lot to find the best middle schools that Angela Mia can go to. We barely found out about it a few weeks before the due date was due for the applications. Neither her mom nor I had the opportunity to ever go to a great school-- not a good elementary school, middle school, or high school.”
My dad has seen all the ups and downs that I have gone through since I was a few months old, he has seen all my struggles, and he always knew I would be successful in the future. He knows that S.I. will be a very hard & challenging school, but S.I will push me the best that I can be. The last thing he said was, “I’m very grateful for F.S.A. and S.I. I'm happy that Angela Mia will be going to one of the best high schools, and I knew that she did a lot to complete this goal. I am so proud that this is the person she has become and I couldn’t imagine a better school.”
What being accepted into S.I means for my family is that I have accomplished something that not many people in my family had the chance to accomplish. It means that I have the opportunity to grow more as a person and work hard for my goals. It means I am one step closer to becoming the person that I have always wanted to be. It means I have an opportunity of a lifetime. It means that I have one more step to growth. It means that I am not that far from being the most successful I can be and moving further in the future.
Chapter Six: Who do you want to be?
What have I always wanted to be? I have wanted to be many different things growing up: a mermaid, ballerina, professional soccer player, and sometimes I wanted to be more. I’ve had different real careers that I have wanted since I was little. I wanted to be a teacher, then a vet, a nurse, a cosmetologist, and now I'm stuck between an interior designer or a lawyer. Overall, all I’ve ever wanted to be was just me.
Who do you want to be? I want to be a successful person that goes to college, loves their job, and loves their life overall. S.I. is going to help me get into the college I want/love, it's going to help me find the career I want, and follow the right path. When I’m older, I want to look back and say, “Wow, I did all that. I graduated from an amazing high school. I graduated from college. I focused on myself for a while. I found love. I’ve experienced all these special moments in life.” I don’t just want to be successful in education or a career, I want to be a great family member and person. I want to be kind and give back to others that don’t have the same opportunities that I had. I hope that if somebody in my family is sick, I can help them out in any way possible. I want to be a good cousin, daughter, and overall human being.