Thank you, Apa.

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Apa,

Thank you for being determined and motivated. It takes a special type of grit to try 10 times to get in somewhere you’re not wanted. I literally wouldn’t be here at Tulane typing this if you hadn’t left Mexico, your family and friends for a better life.

Thank you for waking up at 3 a.m. to work a job that you were overqualified for. For enduring all those racist things that were thrown your way and the classist undertones of Goshen, Indiana.

Thank you for coming home and “helping me with my homework.” I didn’t need help with English, but I appreciated you learning with me. You taught me that struggle was not weakness, that I was equal.

Remember that time Jose hit me with a golf club? When Jose body-slammed me into the floor? When that deer chased me to the front door? I needed someone to tell me it was going to be okay, and you were right there. Thank you for being my superhero.

Thank you for leaving us to start a business. It was hard not to see you for weeks at a time, but you made sure I always had new uniforms and water coming out of el sink and that I knew how to get to and from la eskuhl. I had everything you didn’t and then some.

Thank you for making sure I went to a good school. You demanded perfect grades, and at the time, a 95 wasn’t good enough. But look at where it got me. Thanks for crying during my speech. You deserved a bigger platform, and one day you’ll get it. But for now, high school graduation speeches and college newspapers will have to do.

Thank you for not freaking out when I told you. My legs were shaking as I felt the floor fall under me. I was just looking at you. I didn’t want you to hate me or feel like you did anything wrong, but I knew that, where you come from, it’s not normal. You were still there for me. You made me feel loved and validated, even if you were quiet.

Thank you for wearing a Tulane hat proudly, for showing my Instagram to strangers, for barbequing for my friends, for never giving up. Thanks for the millions of assurances, affections and my middle name.

Te Amo.