Hi everyone! I know I’ve been pretty absent for the past few months. I’ve been enjoying whatever is left of my college days, cause… well, I’m graduating!
Where has time gone? If there’s something I’ve learned during these four years is that time flieeees! It seems as though it was yesterday when I took my first one-way ticket to Penn State. Towards the end of that first year, I remember thinking that I didn’t want my Freshman year to end… Imagine how I feel now. TAKE ME BACK!
I must say though, my Penn State experience has been nothing but an all-around blessing. My parents couldn’t afford the expenses of having me go to school in the U.S., so the only way I could go was if I got a full scholarship. A full scholarship?! That’s crazy were my initial thoughts. But my faith was strong, my heart was determined, and I knew that there was (and is) nothing impossible to God.
And so one Friday morning, I got a call from Penn State’s Admissions office regarding my financial aid. When they told me they wanted to talk to me about my Financial Aid, I thought it would just be another few hundred dollars short of what I needed. I realized I’d been mistaken as soon as they told me I had been one in two to be chosen for a four-year full-tuition scholarship. My jaw dropped… She had to ask if I was still on the line. I then asked her to repeat herself one more time. I just couldn’t believe it! That was the first time I cried tears of joy. My prayers had been answered!
Four years later, and I’m graduating with a double major in Economics and Marketing and with a minor in International Business. Funny thing is that I never really intended to pursue any of these before starting at Penn State. I was inclined to do Psychology and Performing Arts with a business minor. Those of you who know me know that music and theater will always be my first loves. I mean, singing is second nature to me- ask anyone who’s spent five minutes with me and they’ll tell you it’s true. So how did I go from Legally Blonde The Musical to Miss Wall Street?
I will admit that I knew nothing about economics before coming to college. I actually tried not to schedule any economics classes my first semester but ended up doing so after the all the calculus sections were full. I now think it was fate. There was something about that ECON 102 class that left me head over heals about the field in general. I was so enlightened by the knowledge I had acquired and how I could use the concepts and analytical thinking learned in class in my every day life.
Moreover, it was then when my passion to make a change in Puerto Rico ignited. I started to apply the little knowledge I had to Puerto Rico’s economic crisis and wondered how much more I would know if I would pursue the field. I briefly made it my minor, but the urge to know more was way too much, and so it became my second major. I ended up choosing Marketing and International Business as my other areas of studies, because I wanted to do something with business and have always been fascinated with international studies.
Of course, I miss constantly being on stage, doing shows, and learning scripts. However, one of the best decisions I made during my academic career was to allow myself to explore these different fields and to fall in love with them. I would have never known I’d come to love and be good at something else if I hadn’t given myself the chance. I will graduate loving and being passionate about my degrees and knowing that now I’m not just Lorena “the singer” and “the actress,” but also “the economist,” “the marketer,” “the business women,” and “the entrepreneur.”
The first time I went back to Puerto Rico as a Freshman, I could have not felt happier to be back in my bed, my bath, and my home. Every semester, I would look forward to coming back home, being in the sun, and being with my family. However, as time passed, I also started missing Penn State when I was away. As a matter of fact, this last time I went back for Christmas break, I couldn’t wait to be back in my studio in South Allen, in my bed, and close to my friends. I remember coming back and thinking, I’m happy to be home.
To think somewhere unfamiliar would turn into a place I’d be calling home seems crazy, especially when home for me is an island in the Caribbean filled with awesome food and jaw-dropping beaches. I learned that it was the people I surrounded myself with that made it feel like home.
See, when you are thousands of miles away from home and you happen to get very sick, go through a hard breakup, or feel in the blues, the people who are actually there for you are the people you live with, go to class with, and see around campus. These people see you grow and change throughout the years, witnessing your best moments, your worsts, and vice versa. It’s not long until you start worrying about them like a mom, arguing with them like a sister, and loving them like your soulmate.
It’s so hard to put into words how much these people mean to me, because for four years, these people became my world. To be honest, this is the hardest part about graduating- moving away from people you grew so close with during such an important time in your life. It’s extra hard when you have friends from all over the world, because you know they’re now not an Uber ride away to your place or a walk away from Panera.
Before coming to Penn State, I had very few people I cared about other than my family. I’m graduating feeling so much love to and from my friends. I couldn’t feel luckier for the relationships I’ve formed here. You have all been my biggest blessing. And though I hope we all stay in touch, I know life will happen. We’ll all get set in our new lives, and we might drift away.
Know that the memories we’ve made together will be cherished deeply in my heart. Know that I won’t forget the crazy nights we had in Indigo and the Den, or the quality times we had in my apartment talking about life, movies, and our future. Know that if I don’t really say goodbye, it’s because it hurts too much. I’d rather have the hope of seeing you again rather than saying goodbye and thinking I won’t. I pray life keeps us together, and if it doesn’t, I pray that you’ll have a wonderful life filled with love, success, and happiness. I also pray I’ll turn 90 and have (great) grand-kids to tell them about you and our times together. I pray you’ll do the same.
I would have not come this far then or now if it weren’t for my family. I owe them so much for being supportive every step of the way. Thank you, mami for being my rock, my best fiend, and for always giving me words of encouragement when I needed it the most. Thank you, papi for teaching me how to think beyond my horizons and for pushing me to go to school outside my comfort zone. Thank you tío Carlitos, titi Cynthia, and my primas for always rooting me to keep going. Thank you, tío Reyito and uncle Keith for being awesome and always giving me a couch to lay during my stays in the City. Finally, I want to thank and dedicate these achievements to my grandma who died of cancer during my Freshman year. She may not see me walk on Saturday or Sunday, but I know she’ll be walking with me in spirit.
Many friends and family have expressed how proud of me they are for having come this far during these past four years and achieving something so great. Though I’m happy and proud of my accomplishments, I’d say this is just the beginning. I’ll be starting an amaziiiing job in August with a Swiss company. I plan to continue my Graduate studies later on, and well… eventually you’ll see me in the news as Puerto Rico’s President or a famous artist… or both 😉
It’s been an amazing ride. I’ve grown up so much during these years. I mean, if you put my first-day Freshman self next to my last-day Senior self, I can assure you you’ll be speaking to two very different people. It’s been a blessing to have attended Penn State, have had fascinating experiences, and have met beautiful people. I’ve been incredibly blessed.
I’ll be seeing you all at the other side of the tassel.