These past two years, I have been consistently awed and inspired by my girls. With the collection of their college acceptances this spring and scholarships awarded since, I could not fathom being any more impressed and inspired by them than I was on our celebration day.
I know I should no longer be surprised, but being witness to their constant encouragement and support of each other these past few weeks has been captivating. While I'm proud of their accomplishments and accolades they've cumulated, it is their demonstration of character that has impressed me the most.
As the start of their college chapters are approaching, these girls have lifted each other up to new heights. Wishing each other well as they move to new cities, take risks, and defy the odds. Not only privately but on social media as well. They are genuinely proud of each other and how they are redefining their trajectories together. I think back to my own transition to college and how I selfishly only thought about myself, my transition, my evolution, ME. I thought about my friends and how I would miss them, but worried more about their recruitment processes for sororities than encouraging them to become advocates for our generation.
Then, I think about Paloma and this immensely difficult journey that she has traveled. While I've always been proud of Paloma and who she is and her college acceptances as an undocumented student, these past few weeks have blown me away. I've watched her grow into the strongest advocate for herself. She's arranged conversations with Directors of Enrollment and Financial Aid at Elon as well as Program Directors for The Dream USA. She's taken the reigns over her future and fought relentlessly for her education. As she's networked her way across multiple platforms for opportunity these past few weeks, the other girls have stepped up. They too are reaching out to advocate on behalf of Paloma and ensuring that they don't take their access to education for granted.
They think of each other before they think of themselves and most importantly, they think of all of those not afforded the same educational opportunities. For a group of seventeen and freshly eighteen year olds, it's refreshing. I'm eager to see the women they become.
While Paloma's journey is going to look different than initially planned, (she is going to defer Elon for a year while working with an immigration attorney and interning in Charlotte) I wouldn't change her story. These moments of upset and heart break for her have molded her into the young woman she truly is. She's powerful. She's relentless. She's inspiring. She has a voice. This activist she has grown in to is reflected amongst the other girls.
In a perfect world, they will arrive on their college campuses this fall and graduate in the class of 2019. As much as I would love this to be true, I realize that there will be setbacks and hardships along the way. Their paths may look different from each others and that's OK. Despite whatever challenges they may encounter, I know they will persist. Every failed exam, missed assignment, inevitable heartache, poor roommate choice, lost shower shoe, and missed leadership opportunity will mold these girls into exactly the young women they are meant to be.
They have my heart, always.