An Inspirational Latina’s Journey From Trenton to Princeton University

Anna Esqueda has excelled through hard her work and dedication

 

Editor’s note: Anna Patricia Esqueda a Trenton high school senior shares her autobiography in her own words. It’s one of inspiration and perseverance.

I was lost. As I stepped off the platform and into the bleak, frigid airport, I felt alone. I was a stranger in a foreign land, a country that would, only after years passed, become an imperative component of my identity. As I strolled through my new surroundings I realized one crucial difference between my former nation and the one that lay ahead; the Land of Freedom and Opportunity lacked a constant sight of diversity amongst its passing faces.

In my short nine years, I had been surrounded by different cultures, races, religions and languages. Living in Venezuela gave me the opportunity to master Spanish as a language, and gain insights into religions and cultures different from my own. I was introduced to families from all around the world who practiced Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism amongst other religions. Yet, it was only after I arrived in America expecting to see a vibrant visual of the “melting pot” that I truly realized that Venezuela was my home.

Getting acclimated 

I was accustomed to the people, the weather, the culture, and the traditions. Moving to the United States changed my perspective on the world. My first Christmas in America became a dynamic adjustment. I expected to wake up to the savory smell of hallacas and arepas; I yearned for the loud joropo music and the warm air tickling my feet. Instead, I was met with wintry weather and a bleak feeling of loneliness and regret.

My neighborhood was comprised solely of African Americans, no one with whom to speak Spanish or share traditions. My only relief was school; I attained happiness from immersing myself in the diversity of my peers. I surrounded myself with students from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, China, and Liberia. The diversity thrilled my senses and allowed me to once again feel at home.

I am more than a product of my environment

Although throughout my years, my Latino heritage has brought me face to face with constant bullying and at times has made me feel unwanted and excluded, it has more importantly heightened my appreciation for and need to be a part of a community that celebrates differences. My personal experiences have fascinated me with the cultures and knowledge of the people around me, and taught me to work hard beyond my limits. I strive to defeat the stereotypes commonly attached to immigrants.

Over the years I have found myself and can only hope to continue my journey of self-discovery. I know that I am not a product of my environment; I am instead a product of hard work and dedication. Although my designated road to success has been strenuous I continuously push myself to excel in academics, to lead in extracurricular activities and to become an active participant in my community and in helping those in need.

Next page: Success- Trenton debate team and on to Princeton U