> I grew up in Orange, Calif., with my mom, step-dad and younger sister. We were a middle- class family in a small one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. Although we didn’t have the biggest house, my parents always took care of us. We traveled a lot with our dad for work and every Sunday was family day.
> Growing up, I had to sleep in the living room of my apartment because my parents had the only bedroom in a one bedroom apartment. It helped me learn at a young age to rely on myself for comfort and not be scared of things, like the shadows the furniture would cast at night.
> I never knew my biological father. For most of my younger years I always thought my step- father was my biological dad. When I was 14 years old, my mother sat me down and told me the truth about my father. I didn’t have any interest in meeting him because he never showed any interest in my mother and me.
> When my sister was born in 2002, it changed my life. Since both my parents worked long, early hours I took it upon myself to help raise my sister.
> Raising my sister was a learning lesson for me. It helped to me mature quicker than most of my peers because of the responsibilities I had. As her older sister I felt like it was my responsibility to help take care of her.
> In 2005 I was introduced to soccer by my dad, and most of my time became dedicated to practicing. Once I was in 7th grade, I tried out for a local team. I then began playing at least six games a weekend with my dad as my mentor. He’d always make a point to push and motivate me at every game, no matter how hard it was.
> I played against club teams that were expensive to be a part of, but once they saw how talented I was, they recruited me to play for them. I enjoyed playing and overcoming the challenges that came with it because I pushed myself every day and it helped me stay in shape.
> After high school, I attended community college for two years. I studied all of my general education classes so I could focus on a degree in orthodontics or teaching.
> My parents never had enough money to afford my college, but they helped me pay for my books. While I was in school I worked two part-time jobs during any free time I had to help afford my education. My dad never helped with the costs, but my mom was my biggest supporter. She wanted me to be successful and finish my education.
> After my second year of college I was tired of going to school and working two jobs . On top of everything, my parents and I weren’t seeing eye to eye anymore. I decided it was time for a break.
> I already had friends who were in the Marine Corps, and as silly as it sounds, I thought the Marine Corps was the only branch of service. I decided to talk to a recruiter and after that I knew I wanted to join.
> One thing my mother taught me was to always value hard work, where my father taught me to be humble and patient. It definitely helps me in the Marine Corps and their impact has helped me become who I am today.
> Throughout my life, civilian and military, I never really had someone I get along with to guide me in my decisions. I was always forced to learn things the hard way or on my own. Having someone I aspire to be like is a distant thought because I want to do so many different things.
> A quote I live by is, “Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery and today’s a gift from God and that’s why we call it the present.” Everything in this quote makes sense to me. Throughout my life I’ve been able to leave yesterday in the past and move forward toward tomorrow in hopes it will be a better day than the day before. It helps me maintain a positive mentality.