An image of Monroe, the History building at UMW with the school colors depicting hashtag UMW 17 with 3 days below it

Class of 2017, Graduating in Three Days

You probably knew this day was coming. Maybe you were waiting for your thank you. Here it is fam…literally. Just three days until graduation and I’d like to say thank you to my big Brady Bunch family.

3 Days to Grad: My Three Families

The Biological

My parents, Ovely and Frank, are two extremely hardworking people. They came to the United States from Venezuela when they were teenagers, neither at the same time or as a couple, but their relationship would land them three awesome children. They probably didn’t know that what they were signing up for, both in regards to living in the US or having to raise first generation children, but they did their best. I watched them work multiple jobs, be gone all hours of the day, running up and down the coast, and making hot dogs and mac-n-cheese seem like a feast. As we are now adults we get the pleasure of teaching them things, but they never stopped teaching me. Since I began college, little by little, I have learned more about Venezuela, its culture, history, and invested in its politics. I even learned that my globe-trotting paternal grandfather was in France during World War II, which is what I had written my thesis about. I am so thankful for my mother’s patience in helping me better my Spanish and the unending support from my countless cousins, aunts, and uncles living abroad, many of whom lack the privileges I have here in the US because of the current political and economic crisis in Venezuela. I’m also thankful for Donna and her little ladies, those three have brought my dad great joy and supported him as I’ve been too busy with school to properly take care of myself at times.

The experiences of each of my sisters are different from mine because we didn’t grow up together, but we share a bond unlike those with my step-siblings. Mariana, my older sister, and Ashley, my younger sister have overcome so much adversity to be the women they are today. Just as I am proud of my parents, I am equally as proud of my sisters and thankful for their significant others. Mariana, you made sure I was safe and were always there to listen to my trivial woes. You have been a sidekick to Jake and I. You’re going to make it through school, maybe not at the pace you want, but if I know you, you’ll persevere. It’s just your first term back and you pulled a 4.0. Keep it up! Daniel, thank you for supporting her because I can’t be down south with y’all. Ashley, you could have been a statistic. I don’t know how often you even look at statistics, but the odds were so stacked against you and you still get up and do your course work with a smile. Your little family is lucky to have someone that knows what she wants. We may look a bit twin-like but we have completely opposite personalities and that’s cool because as we’ve matured we’ve learned to give each other advice. Both of you, unlike me, wear your heart on your sleeve. I don’t think I’d be half as caring as I am without you. John, keep on keeping on. You’re a fantastic addition to our family, a great role model for Jayden, and Ashley needs someone to make her discover her inner nerd.

The Loves

If ever there was a family deserving of the last name ‘Love’ it was y’all. Cathy cared about me from before I was under her roof. I was always just another one of her kids and never felt the ‘difference’ some step-children feel. Truthfully, as a group, Amanda, Danny, and I were all siblings and did a lot together and even though my teenage years were the hardest of my life I know that my friendship with Amanda and admiration of Danny really shaped me. Amanda’s an introvert, but she sort of forces herself to be an extrovert in a smaller group of people. It’s a technique I had to use in college until I became a better public speaker. Amanda also helped me become a better listener. Danny, well, he was always good at anything he tried. There was a natural drive to try and be just as talented and that drive is definitely a credit to my current standing at UMW. More than all of that, the Loves taught me that family is what you make of it. All together we are some nine or so kids, some married and some with kids of their own, and we can never manage to get to the same place at the same time, just like we all never lived under one roof together. We could have never bothered to get to know each other, but you did. Your big hearts melted my icebox a little and I genuinely would not be here without you. Through all the ups and downs of life, I am proud of you all and your various accomplishments. I am so grateful for the support you show my angsty teenage self and all the attempts to see me and keep in touch as I worked on this degree.

The Griffittses

There is no denying that I am the odd one out in this bunch and I wish that I could say it didn’t feel like that, especially over the last year, but that isn’t the truth. Nevertheless, I love and am thankful for this amazing family. Steve and Chan raised three incredibly intelligent and passionate people. I’m both significantly younger and of some very different opinions, making conversations difficult at times, but several moments over the last few years have shown me how big a heart can be, despite some discord. In just another year I will be tucking away my notebooks to be a teacher and I look forward to finally making some of the meetings you’d hoped we’d have because I do care, I see you care, and I know that my hectic school schedule likely made you feel like I didn’t care. That’s a problem I’ve noticed with myself, I sometimes make plans to do something, such as call or text an apology or a clarification on why I’m not going to some event or another, but I get busy and forget to do even that. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? Well, let it be known that I love each and every one of you, even at arm’s length for our own sanity, and that I look forward to many an adult conversation on the real world because what kind of teacher would I be without civil discourse?

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