Valencia’s ‘One Word’ – VALENCIA

Valencia One Word

We were given the assignment to find one word that describes each of us personally and in depth.  After racking my brain for about a day and trying to think of over a billion adjectives in this world that could actually capture all of this awesomeness, I was stumped.  It wasn’t until the next morning when I woke up and looked around my room that I found the perfect word for me:  VALENCIA.

Valencia in Latin means strength and brave.  Hearing the word pronounced is beautiful and makes me happy.  To those who speak Spanish, it rolls and often the V is replaced with the sound of a b, while to Americans it comes out so smooth.  Either way, the name remains strong, unique, and something you’ll want to hear or say over and over again.

I am both African-American and Spanish.  I feel my name captures both sides of me.  The word is so beautiful, strong, and brave.   The majority of people who know me and interact with me can tell you I fit that description perfectly.

I could have let a lot of obstacles stop me from becoming who I am today or from being where I am right now, but I took chances.  When doors closed on me, I found windows to go through.  This has resulted in the head strong, beautiful, brave young lady that could possibly soon be in your presence.

When I was in the 5th grade, one of my teachers made us find the meaning or definition behind our names.  Mine has stuck with me ever since.  That’s why when I woke up that morning and looked around my room and all I saw was my name or initial, I automatically knew that no better word could describe me.

Some people go through life wishing to change their names or say “I feel like I should have been a ________”. I beg to differ.  The one thing I can thank my mother for is naming me Valencia.

Madi’s ‘One Word’ – Atman

Madi One Word Photo

Atman is Sanskrit for the English word soul. In English, the soul means the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal or as the essence or embodiment of a specified quality. These definitions graze the surface of the word atman but only the surface. In Hinduism, the literal definition of atman is one’s true self or one’s real self; to me this definition of the word challenges my outlook on life and resonates within me.

Your atman in the literal sense is everything that makes up who you are: your personality, your actions, your reasoning behind those actions, the laugh you use when you find something genuinely funny, and your beliefs and how you reached them. I believe this to be the most important thing you own in this world. You come into the world with nothing but your atman and throughout your life everyone will try to take it away from you. They will try to tell you who you are, what you like, what you want to do, or what you should become. The world can take away so much from you: your money, family, friends, dreams, and plans. Society and expectations can strip you down and leave you broken and lost. The society we live in can be a cold and dark place, but through everything you always have your atman; if you give that away, if you give up who you are and what you stand for, you have nothing.

I am a unique and particular individual. I come from a small town deep in the heart of the Bible Belt where females have a predetermined role of housewife or secretary. I wasn’t taught that I was worthless. I was simply taught that there were just some things that I wasn’t supposed to do. All my life I lived with expectations and rules that I found ridiculous or silly. I never bought into the idea that I couldn’t do something because of my gender. To me, anything was possible. I grew up being told who I was supposed to be and that’s why I value my atman so much.  Despite all that I was told, I never let expectations or people tell me who I am or who I was going to be.

By human nature we are curious as to our purpose and what being truly alive involves. One question that passes through everyone’s mind at one point or another is “Why am I here?” We face the question of who we are and what we are meant to do with our lives. I believe the answer is much simpler than people make it out to be. I believe we were meant to live this life as unapologetically ourselves. The goal is to try and escape this place as untainted as possible.

Atman is so important to me because I believe you must protect and respect who you are. That is the ultimate challenge to go through life and maintain the characteristics that make you unmistakably you: to preserve who you are.

Myryha’s ‘One Word’ – Strength

Myryha One Word

Everyone has both inner and outer strengths that make us who we are. Our knowledge of our strengths allows us to continue perfecting ourselves. Strengths allow us to be resilient and complete our goals that make up our life path.

When I was younger, I did not understand what path I should take in life. I did not know what I should do with my life and that made me feel weak. I went through my life just living without thinking about tomorrow. I was just floating through life. I began taking martial arts classes to make myself strong and to teach myself discipline, but I still just did not understand what my life path was. My answer finally came on December 29, 2009, when my father was taken from me. I then understood that I had to get my life straightened out. I could no longer just “float” through life. I had to become strong for my family and for myself. After my dad’s death, I had to become emotionally strong because I had to become my mother’s “rock.” My mother was utterly devastated when my father died and it was hard for her to live from day to day. It was like she did not remember how and what to do during the day.

I had to cultivate my inner and outer strengths so that I could do what I wanted to do. I wanted to make a name for myself in more than one way. I did that by becoming a three-time World Champion martial artist, as well as the youngest female 4th degree black belt in the history of the World Kido Federation, the martial arts organization I belong to. I will also become the best veterinarian that I can be when I finish college.

I will never forget the day that I found my strength and my life path. That day will always be engrained in my mind for as long as I live. I now hope to lead others in finding their strengths as a leader in the 2018 First Year Leadership Class (FLC) at Texas A&M University-Commerce. We can all be strong in our own ways.

Blanca’s ‘One Word’ – Dedication

BlancaMesquite High School gave me a lot of opportunities to strive for success. Since freshman year, I was a cheerleader. I was also involved with theatre, dance co, cross country and track, and many organizations such as Fellowship for Christian Athletes, National Honor Society, and National Spanish Honor Society.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was getting accepted into the National Honor Society program. National Honor Society was competitive because it required a full year of all A’s. As a member we had to do certain amount of volunteer hours, be leaders on campus, be involved with other organizations, and make all A’s. My dedication showed a lot with NHS because I was an A and B student. I was dedicated and determined to maintain all A’s. I was the first student to arrive at school and the last one to leave. I went to tutoring before and after school. It got harder when I had to do volunteer hours because all of the other organizations I was in needed the same attention I put into NHS. The other organizations also required volunteer hours as well.  It was a lot of pressure, but I did it because I was dedicated one hundred percent. I did not allow anything to get in my way.  Throughout senior year I received scholarships for the sports and extracurricular activities I did in high school, and I graduated high school with three honor cords: National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, and Thespian Honor Society.

I am now a freshman at Texas A&M University-Commerce. My next goal is to graduate as a RN with a degree in nursing. My prior dedication and accomplishments helped me afford my college tuition and my scholarships left me with a zero balance for my first semester. I knew I had made my parents proud through all of my hard work. I am now a cheerleader for the university, part of FLC (First Year Leadership Class), a scholar through Hispanic outreach, and a member of Kappa Delta sorority. My dedication has gotten me this far, and I can’t wait to see what more I will do in the future to succeed.

Bryan’s ‘One Word’ – Unique

Bryan

Throughout my entire life teachers, friends, and family have asked me to describe myself in one word, and I always answered with words that almost hit the target: dedicated, passionate, loving, caring, hard-working, etc. Every time I looked back, however, I did not feel satisfied. I always felt like instead of completely describing me, the words named a section of my personality, until now.

All of my life, I have been different. I always found comfort in the idea that I was different and I was always glad to stand out from everyone else. My parents had opposing opinions. I was always told to stay in my own bubble and not to attract attention. I found that the only place I could ever be my true self was at school. My teachers always encouraged me to be different and have unique self-expression, and that’s why I liked going to school as a kid. Being unique and different is the signature that we have for ourselves, and without it we become lost in society. As the years went by, I began to lose my signature and just blended in with everyone else. I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to become.

As I went into high school, I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. All I knew is that I wanted to make a difference. Then I found a class where I could intern with teachers and teach in real classrooms. I never thought that becoming a teacher would be my dream career but somehow this class showed me that it was everything I was looking for. I learned more about myself than I have ever learned, and I realized how everything was connected. My teacher, Ms. Thompson, always released us with her motto for our class:

“Make a positive difference in the life of a child.”

The first time she used that I realized what I want to do in the future. I want to create an environment where everyone feels like they can be themselves. I want children to embrace their flaws and what makes them different, what makes them unique.

Why is the word unique to me? Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” I was a loner in elementary school. I was bullied because I was different. Throughout middle school, I was judged for trying to be different. I challenged the status quo but it only led me to being exiled from what society calls normal. By the time high school came, I began to understand myself. I started to see what made me different. People’s judgments died down but didn’t get better. I remember how hard coming out was. To this day, I still don’t understand why we have to explain our sexual orientation to people, but society has labeled this as appropriate. A few of my friends stopped talking to me, but in the end, I found my true friends that accepted me for who I am. I remember explaining to my mom who I was but the rejection I received from her was unbearable. I just hid myself from her and my family because I knew that if she couldn’t understand then no one else would. My friends became my family and my teachers became my guardians. I took refuge in my teaching class and that was the moment when I knew my mission was to educate the future in a more accepting and open minded environment. So why is the word unique important to me? Being unique is important to me because even if trying to be unique led me to a hard life, I can honestly say that my signature is the most valuable possession I own and I would continue to live a hard life to keep my signature.

Ashley’s ‘One Word’ — Passion

Ashley

Ashley

In order to be passionate, one must identify what truly makes them happy. Passion is a trait that anyone can have but few can exhibit. Throughout my life, I have discovered many things that I am passionate about including faith, family, love, and academics, but athletics is the epitome of where my passion holds the most weight.

Since I could walk, I have been involved in many sports, but the one that holds the biggest spot in my heart is volleyball. This is where I find my passion in full effect. I noticed my passion for volleyball when I began playing Kid’s Inc. volleyball in the fifth grade. It was my first time ever playing this sport, but right away I knew something was different. I tried other sports that year but none kept my interest like volleyball did. I continued playing volleyball throughout middle school and high school. During high school, I played through many injuries, shed tears over so many ill-played games, put in numerous extra hours after practice to improve my skills, and pushed many others to have the drive for volleyball that I had. I remember getting so mad at myself for missing a serve or spiking the ball into the net.

Senior year came around and I knew that season could be my last. The floor became my best friend that year because no ball was going to hit the ground on my watch. I remember our last game and first round of playoffs trying so hard even when it was just me. That was such an emotional game for me, but I had the best game of my career. I was diving into the bench chairs to get the ball back in play. I wanted that game more than anything. Giving up on the play was not an option even though my teammates already had. We lost the game and I cried for a few days. Volleyball was over, and I didn’t know what to do next. Throughout my high school years, volleyball had been my rock. When I stepped foot on the court, all the worldly problems that I was facing just seemed to disappear. That is why I put so much time and effort into it.

No matter what, I always worked hard at every sport I was involved in. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to be noticed. In order for anybody to spend their time trying to better themselves at anything, they must first be passionate about it. Due to my passion for sports, I have chosen to be a coach so that I can always be involved in what I love.

Keilah’s ‘One Word’ — Trailblazer

Keilah

Keilah

Finding one word to illustrate who I am as a person can be quite a daunting task, because I am, like most people, a complex and multi-faceted person. However, as I contemplate who I am, the choices I make, and the things I desire to accomplish, I would like to think of myself as a trailblazer.  A trailblazer is a person who makes a new track or path for others to follow—someone who is a pioneer or an innovator. Trailblazers are leaders among leaders. Trailblazers create unique and different ways of thinking about or approaching issues and opportunities. While I may have only blazed a few small trails at this point in my life, my vision is to blaze a movement across the globe to bring positivity by discussing and promoting marvelous and exceptional stories as a journalist.

One of my StrengthsQuest themes is that I am Futuristic.  The future and the idea of making the world a better place for all fascinates and inspires me. Part of being futuristic is dreaming big and seeing a clear vision of what could be. My vision isn’t the popular way of doing things—it perhaps even goes “against the grain” or does not flow with the rest of the crowd. I want to be the type of journalist that helps others by reporting news that is positive and uplifting. It will be my way of bringing something different to the table.

One example of a trail that I blazed is the path to a more creative, better designed and organized yearbook.  My sophomore year in high school, I joined the school’s yearbook committee. Soon after joining, I realized that it was very unorganized and underdeveloped. The members of the team all saw the yearbook as a book full of pictures.  I saw it as much more than that. I took the initiative of developing actual themes and designs for the yearbook.  I even thought it would be an innovative idea to conduct personal interviews with the specific seniors in the school who were trailblazers in their concentration areas and would most likely become famous in their fields in the future.  These interviews would become a part of the yearbook and history of our school.

The word “trailblazer” describes my destiny. I think I have the qualities of being a leader and becoming a leader among leaders.  I hope to inspire others by my actions and ideals, and lead those who share in and wish to follow my vision, while making my mark on this world. I want to create new paths that give people hope, make people feel good and help people work through the struggles in their lives.  I want to share the good news of life to bring comfort and encouragement to those dealing with disappointment and tough times in the world. As a trailblazer, I want to make my mark in history as a person who has a mission to spread positivity and peace across the world.