My name is Aniya Morales and I am from the beautiful, loud and diverse City of New York. I was born in Manhattan and raised for some time in Queens before moving to the “boogie down” Bronx. I am proud of where I come from. The pride does not stem from my zip code or ethnicity, but from the struggles that I come from. The moments that were tough, in which opporunities that I have received were never possibilities that crossed my mind. Along the way, I encountered many obstacles that evoked a sense of helplessness and desire to give up because that is what felt easiest. A driving force in my life was my grandmother who aside from playing her role, was a mentor who instilled in me the need to persist. She taught me that not everything came easy, but that at the end of it all, it would be worth it. Though she is now absent, her words are very much present in everything that I am able to accomplish.
The words from my grandmother were echoed frequently in my family as well. Though my family is very big in number, my nucleus is very small and tight knit; always pushing me to the full potential that at times I don’t see I have. We are very close and each other’s cheer leaders. We have encountered difficult and dynamic changes that have only tightened our bonds and strengthened our love for one another. My mother raised my siblings and I with very moral values that included respecting all no matter where they come from, what they look like or what they believe, and the need to be empathetic to all. Aside from the love that our religious beliefs are grounded in, my mother always taught us the need to be kind to others and treat others as we would wish to be treated.
In my journey towards pursuing a career in education, I have been able to learn many things. While many things have been acquired through many hours in lecture halls and on Zoom meetings, others have been learned through experiences. As I encountered certain experiences, I was able to learn from my mistakes, learn about the ways to navigate situations and use the knowledge from my old experiences to form the foundation for my new ones. Using past experiences and knowledge in the future is a decision we make to recognize the value that everything we go through has. I am grateful for the hardships that I have endured as they have educated me and prepared me for the things to come.
I am delighted about the lines you decided to share with the Youth Voices community, “What Makes Me, Me,” because I see myself in your story as I have been facing a lot of obstacles during my time in New York City.
One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “My mother raised my siblings and me with very moral values that included respecting all no matter where they come from, what they look like or what they believe, and the need to be empathetic to all.” I think this is a powerful legacy because family values help us to be inclusive and better citizens. As human beings, we are demanded to love and value each other.
Another sentence that I enjoyed was: “I was able to learn from my mistakes, learn about the ways to navigate situations, and use the knowledge from my old experiences to form the foundation for my new ones” This stood out for me because I believe that people learn and grow from the negative experiences that have impacted their lives.
Have you seen this video that I love? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agrXgrAgQ0U I thought you might like it because of the powerful motivating message it has for fighting women like you and me. Take a look and enjoy!
Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because I love your story, and it was so inspirational. I loved the great relationship you had with your grandmother.