To my family,
It's a rewarding world I live in, with the friends I've made since childhood, and those I met later in life through my educational years. But my second one is by far superior. My second one is populated with characters slightly less eccentric, but supremely real, made of flesh and bone, full of love, who are my ultimate inspiration for everything.
My uncles and aunts: Veronica and Diego are kind, decent, unfailingly generous people, who are there no matter what. They are my twin pillars, without whom I could not stand. I am proud to be their niece. My grandmother, to whom I would never replace, who never fails to crack dirty jokes and make me laugh when she knows I'm feeling down.
But YOU are my ultimate inspiration. This inspiration comes from my best friend, the dazzling woman from whom I received my name and my life's blood, Gabriela Montenegro. My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn't do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be. She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unwavering in her efforts to give me role models and life lessons from both her life and from my own. I go to her for everything and I know that though we don't get along sometimes, I aspire to be her.
She is what I wish to become as an individual: Strong, resilient, hopeful, and persistent. She learned and taught me that sometimes it's OK to be alone and that depending on people is OK, but not necessary. She is my inspiration and always will be. She has pushed me to be the best I can be, to become more in life, and to prove people wrong for as long as I can remember. She taught me to never settle for less and to be proud of who I am. Mistakes are OK as long as you learn from them.
Once my little sister was born, I saw her and realized that I needed to accomplish my dreams and set an example for her. No amount of accomplishments will ever be enough to thank my mom for the past 18 years of sacrifices she has made for me and my siblings. She is a great strong woman who will do everything and anything for the sake of her children. Life has treated her unfairly and I hope I don't disappoint you. Before I leave, Gianelly, you have to be a role model for our little brother. He'll need you, just like you need me. We are each other's support system, and if we don't stick together, neither will mom. She's our support system, but we are hers.
So to my little siblings, Gianelly and RJay, please always listen to mom. She knows what's best even if you don't agree. She will be there (even though it doesn't seem like it sometimes). She will always want what's best for you and will always love you. She will be your best friend, as she is mine. She guided me through these incredible 18 years. I don't know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her.
Thank you, Mom. You are my guidepost for everything. To the rest of my family (aunts, uncles, grandparents), thank you for never losing hope in me. Thank you for being there for me and my mom. Thank you for always pushing me towards my goals, indirectly or directly.
I hope I don't disappoint you in the years to come and I know you all will support me in my next step in life. So mom, family, siblings, thank you for the patience, time, and support you've given me through my K -12 school years.
Mom, I thank you for everything and this isn't a big enough thank you. I hope I made you proud with my first big step towards what I hope will be a big, fulfilling future.