A Thank You Letter To Lin-Manuel Miranda From A Puerto Rican.

A Thank You Letter To Lin-Manuel Miranda From A Puerto Rican.

A voice like Hamilton's in the midst of a crisis.
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Lin-Manuel Miranda is an actor, composer, rapper, and writer born in New York city to Puerto Rican parents. In 2002, he started working and participated on the off-Broadway musical In The Heights which later in 2008 actually went on Broadway until 2011. This was such a success that Lin-Manuel's performance earned him a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2008.

After In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda worked on various other projects such as composing and writing music as well as appearing in other musicals and TV shows. During this time, he read a biography of Alexander Hamilton and started writing the lyrics to what one day would be the famous Broadway musical Hamilton. Since its off-Broadway premiere in January 2015, this musical has won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, eight Drama Desk Awards, and has set the record by having 16 Tony Award nominations and winning 11 of those Tony Awards this past weekend. Clearly, Lin-Manuel Miranda has been very successful on and off the stage.

I remember last semester my friend and I were on a 3-hour road trip to visit a friend's house and when we started the trip he asked if I had heard about the play Hamilton. I had a faint memory of Alexander Hamilton from US History class in high school, but no idea about the play. During the ride we listened to the entire album on Spotify and I was blown away! The creativity, style, and passion in each song was amazing!

It's clear that he has been an important figure in the world of theater, but not many people know that Lin-Manuel Miranda has also been an important figure in advocating for the financial situation of Puerto Rico. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a much needed voice in this time of crisis; in a time where Puerto Rico is in dire need of help from the United States government, he has been an advocate for us in a unique way.

Many of us in Puerto Rico can relate to the words he wrote in a 2015 article saying, "What can I say to persuade elected officials and policy makers to act? What influence do I have to change the minds and hearts of those in Congress to put aside their differences and deal with the crisis confronting 3.5 million American citizens in the Caribbean?" And that's the question: What can we do?

Lin-Manuel has since decided that he is going to use his voice and skills to help Puerto Rico. On March 2016 he stood before Congress pleading for them to help Puerto Rico face its economic crisis.

A month later John Oliver made a call for relief to Puerto Rico's crisis on his show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Lin-Manuel was invited to the show where he performed a phenomenal rap making a call to action regarding Puerto Rico's crisis The original video has gone viral with almost 5 million views on YouTube. Here's a clip of his rap:

Where many settled with simply thinking that it is too big a problem to deal with, Lin-Manuel as well as a few other brave people stood up and did what he knew best to do. As a Puerto Rican born and raised, someone who loves and cares about the land I call home, Lin-Manuel Miranda has been an inspiration and a hope to me and many other people. We can make a difference; not all is lost!

So if you're reading this, know that there is still hope. We can still do something about Puerto Rico's situation. You and I can make a difference - we just have to look in the mirror and decide the change starts with ourselves.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, if by any chance you were able to read this: Gracias! Clearly I am a big fan of your performances and I hope to one day have the opportunity to meet you and see you perform on stage, but I am a bigger fan of what you are doing for the land I call home. Thank you for showing me and so many others that we can do something about Puerto Rico. You have been a voice like Alexander Hamilton's to Puerto Rico and I pray more people will be inspired by your example as I have.

Cover Image Credit: Qnary

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Anti-Abortion: The Wrong Future For America

Even if you do not choose to exercise your right, it should not be taken away.

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Alabama is one of the most recent states to sign in an anti-abortion law in their state legislature, with many states following their lead. Starting in November, the new legislation that makes abortion illegal except in cases where the mother's health is at risk will become law in Alabama. That's right, it won't even cover rape or incest. A woman not only gets raped but then must suffer the trauma of having the baby of their offender, while the man who raped them could get away with little or no consequences. Right before Alabama, Georgia's governor signed their heart-beat bill. Outlawing abortion after the 6-8 week mark, when the baby's heartbeat is present, starting in 2020. Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio also passed heart-beat bills, according to the New York Times. Some women don't even know they are pregnant at 6 weeks.

But there really are some issues surrounding this legislation.

In this country, people come from so many different backgrounds. I'm not just talking race and religion. But, socio-economic backgrounds, lifestyles, goals, family support systems, and so much more. So many times, I hear people say, "if they do not have the means to keep the child, they can just give the baby up for adoption." But not every child grows up through the system with happy outcomes. It's not guaranteed. In 2017, over 17,000 children aged out of the foster care children and did not have a permanent family. Many children will even face abuse.

Our Congress' always jump straight to anti-abortion as well. Our states could be spending that time, money, and energy to allocate more resources into adoption and foster care systems to get as close to a guarantee of a good life for the children placed there. Creating more open access to birth control and contraceptives and making sure our today's teenagers and future parents have the proper sex education will make sure that they understand the in and outs of not only sex but proper birth control methods to be well-prepared in the future. Our education system is failing our students, while our governments are not trying to solve the bigger issues at hand that can help alleviate part of the need for abortions. Our Congress' are spending time, money, and energy to pass legislation that, in some cases, do not even align with Supreme Court decisions.

We also cannot forget about the legislators passing these bills in the state legislatures. The majority of them? Men. Men who have never known what it is like to miss your period, and sum it up to stress until more than 6 weeks later. As citizens and residents of this country, it should be our responsibility not only to understand safe sex (which needs to be taught through our schools) but to go to the polls and vote for the politicians who will represent your best interests. Who tries to better the system, before taking drastic measures that work against the women in this country. Women deserve their rights.

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