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Susie Castillo

Immigrant Archive Project
Susie Castillo was just the third Latina to win the Miss USA Pageant. She’s also an accomplished author, TV personality and film star, who credits much of her success to the influence of her single mother. Her story, as you’re about to hear, is as much a testament to her drive and talent, as it is an homage to all the hardworking single mothers, who against the odds, manage to raise truly remarkable children.
Show transcript
00:00
I realized that um I became the woman that I was and had become
00:06
only the third Latino to win miss USA because of my mother,
00:15
Suzie, let's, let's begin the way we do with everyone, with
00:17
your, your name and uh nationality.
00:20
OK.
00:21
My name is Susie Castillo and I am Puerto Rican and Dominican
00:25
Now you were, you were born and raised in Massachusetts.
00:29
It, no.
00:30
Take me back to your childhood, Suzie.
00:32
What, what, what can you tell me about your childhood?
00:34
Well, my childhood in, in Massachusetts was very unique.
00:38
Um And I say that because a lot of my cousins who are also Puerto
00:43
Rican and Dominican uh of Hispanic background um that grew
00:47
up around me were very, very Americanized.
00:49
But for my mother, it was very, my parents divorced when I was
00:52
six years old.
00:53
And so I always say I'm 90% Puerto Rican, 10% Dominican because
00:57
I grew up with the Puerto Rican culture very much, you know
01:01
intertwined in my life.
01:03
And during the school year, I would be in Massachusetts with
01:07
all my American friends and, you know, playing in, in, in the
01:11
yard with them and on the street.
01:12
And then as soon as school was over my mother, I mean, when I
01:16
was seven years old would put me on a plane sometimes by myself
01:19
or with my older sister who was not much older.
01:21
She was just, I was seven, she was nine and put us on a plane would
01:24
strap us in because back then you could do that and she would
01:27
send me to Puerto Rico for the entire summer.
01:30
So it was a very unique upbringing because I had, I had the ability
01:35
to really know my culture and get to know where, you know, my
01:40
mom grew up and her 19 other siblings, you know, because it
01:44
was, I come from a very big family and this is just on my mother's
01:46
side.
01:47
So it was, it was quite the unique upbringing and and I love
01:51
that I have that experience in my life.
01:53
And Spanish was my first language.
01:55
I learned English in school.
01:57
I was in bilingual classes till I was in fourth grade.
01:59
So it was, it was really cool.
02:01
I love it.
02:02
I love that.
02:02
I have that background.
02:04
It was important for her to pass that along to her, to her Children
02:09
No.
02:09
Why, you know, passing, passing along the the Puerto Rican
02:13
culture was important to my mother because she said it was
02:17
who we were.
02:18
That's deep down, even though we were born and raised in America
02:23
she's like you guys are Puerto Rican.
02:24
So you have to learn the language and you have to know about
02:28
the culture and, and where we grew up, you know, and it was,
02:31
it was something that was always so important to her and that's
02:34
why it's like, it didn't even matter.
02:35
And, and as a child, I remember not even crying when she would
02:37
put me on the plane by myself to send me off to Puerto Rico.
02:40
She just, she did it.
02:42
And it was, I had such fantastic fond memories of my summers
02:47
in Puerto Rico and playing in the same streets where my mom
02:50
used to play, you know, hopscotch and things like that with
02:53
her sister and her friends.
02:54
And it's a gift that was such a gift that my mom gave me.
02:58
And I'll never forget when I was about, I was a teenager, you
03:01
know, and as most teenagers do we, we bust our parents chops
03:04
right?
03:04
And I was telling my mom who still to this day, I still only speak
03:07
Spanish with her and her English is very bad.
03:10
And I feel like it's a sacrifice that she made because she always
03:14
said I would say to her, I'm like, mommy, you know, we live,
03:17
we live in America said English is, is the common language
03:21
I'm like, you need to learn how to speak English better.
03:23
And she'd be like, and that's what she would say to me.
03:32
I'm like, oh my God, I can't win with this woman so fine Spanish
03:34
it is.
03:35
But I'm so grateful because now I can speak both languages
03:38
And I have cousins who, you know, my, my aunts and uncles were
03:42
just trying to get the other, I guess the other kids at school
03:49
or whatever, get them to, to fit in.
03:51
Right.
03:52
So they never taught them Spanish, they never taught them
03:54
about the culture except rice and beans and pork chops, fried
03:58
pork chops.
03:59
And that was it.
04:00
And now those cousins who can't speak a lick of Spanish are
04:05
you know, they're very regretful and they get angry at my
04:08
aunts and uncles for not teaching them the language.
04:12
Oh, it sounds like you and I grew up in the same household.
04:16
Yeah.
04:17
The exact same was true for us.
04:20
Seems to me like your mom has been a very important figure in
04:23
your life.
04:25
Yes.
04:25
Talk to me about that.
04:26
Yeah.
04:26
I mean, my mom, she's an incredible woman.
04:30
I mean, she, you know, my, my father, unfortunately, uh, you
04:34
know, just left a letter on the kitchen table and left us.
04:39
You know, he left my mom with three young daughters.
04:42
I was six.
04:43
My older sister was eight, my little sister was six months
04:46
old and there my mom was from one day to the next, a single mother
04:50
My grandmother had to move in to help her raise us.
04:53
My mom had to get a second job.
04:55
You know, she would have two jobs during the week and then on
04:57
the weekends have another job.
04:58
So, really, there, there was a time where she had three jobs
05:01
to put food on the table and, you know, it was very difficult
05:04
and for her, you know, for us she never let on that, maybe we
05:09
were going through a difficult time financially.
05:11
You know, I mean, there was always abundance, you know, in
05:13
our home and as a child, I never, I, I never experienced anything
05:18
other than that, you know, an abundance of love, an abundance
05:21
of support, very strict.
05:23
My mother was very strict but she had to be, you know, she was
05:27
in, she was a single mother and, and raising three young girls
05:31
you know, she was trying to protect us.
05:33
And even though at the time I didn't know, she always said to
05:36
me, you know, when you're older, you're gonna understand
05:38
exactly what I'm talking about and why I'm doing the things
05:41
that I do.
05:42
And, you know, I was, I, it was something that I was like mom
05:46
but now, uh, I write her in a, she gets mother's day cards and
05:51
father's day cards and gifts from me and from my two sisters
05:55
as well because that's who she was and she deserves that.
05:57
And so much more she was her mom and she was her dad.
06:01
Do you remember if there ever was a time when it, it hit you?
06:05
And you realized what she had done.
06:09
You realized your sacrifice was there sort of in a, an epiphany
06:14
where it crystallized?
06:16
Um I, I guess if I had to choose a moment, I would say a very significant
06:22
moment where I really, really, truly realized how wonderful
06:27
my mother was.
06:28
Um was when I won miss USA because I don't wanna start to cry
06:35
Um I realized that um I became the woman that I was and had become
06:43
only the third Latino to win Miss USA because of my mother,
06:46
because of the way she raised me and because of the, which she
06:50
taught me about loyalty and about family and about being who
06:56
you want to be.
06:57
Truly.
06:57
Not because not trying to fit in, you know, and, and trying
07:01
to fit a mold, but just being the greatest version of yourself
07:06
that you could be.
07:07
And by me doing that, which she taught me to do, I accomplished
07:13
something that when I was a child, I never, I mean, you know
07:16
as a, as a Latina you grew up watching um Miss and the Miss all
07:20
the pageants.
07:20
So that's like our royalty, right?
07:21
And as a kid, you're like, wow, and you look at these beautiful
07:24
women, Miss Venezuela with her beautiful long man, you know
07:27
and they're the ones that usually win Miss Uni and when I won
07:30
Miss USA, you know, they put us in alphabetical order every
07:33
time we do anything.
07:34
And Miss Venezuela was right behind me and I remember turning
07:37
around and looking at her and being like this, this is an amazing
07:41
thing for me to be here right now.
07:43
And the only reason I'm here is because of my mother and what
07:46
she taught me because I won that pageant, not because I had
07:50
long flowing hair, everybody had long flowing hair, everybody
07:53
had a beautiful gown on.
07:54
All of these girls are models and you know, they all were, were
07:57
they were all worthy of this crown.
07:59
And I truly believe that what set me apart from everyone else
08:03
was my culture, my culture and what my mom taught me and being
08:07
Puerto Rican and what she learned from her mother and, and
08:10
she, she passed on those things to me and that's why I won that
08:15
pageant.
08:17
Plain and simple.
08:19
Yeah.
08:20
Hm.
08:22
Rid of that.
08:25
Did going into the Miss Usa pageant.
08:29
Did your mom give you any advice?
08:33
Was there a conversation that you recall a moment?
08:39
Oh God, I feel like there was so many or, or, or, or perhaps if
08:43
you can't recall it?
08:44
Do you recall your first conversation with your mom after
08:49
having been crowned?
08:50
What was that like?
08:52
Oh, man, after I was crowned Miss USA, my mother, when I saw
08:56
her face, she was like a ghost.
08:59
She wasn't crying but she was so pale and she was, you know,
09:04
I sense fear like she was scared or something.
09:06
Maybe it was just pure shock.
09:08
Um, she couldn't, you know, she couldn't believe it.
09:11
She couldn't, she couldn't, you know, because that's how
09:14
I felt the whole time too.
09:15
You know, it's like, of course I can accomplish.
09:17
I can, I always knew that I could accomplish anything that
09:19
I set a goal for.
09:21
You know, but when I would reach it, there was, there's, there's
09:25
a moment that you're always in shock.
09:28
It's like, oh my God, ok, this is what I wanted and then I accomplish
09:30
it and then it's here and you're like, oh my God.
09:33
Um But my mother was speechless.
09:35
I remember I was like, mommy, how do you feel?
09:37
And she was like, I don't know, she was just so shocked.
09:42
But, um you know, one of the moments I think my mom didn't have
09:46
to have a specific conversation with me when I was about to
09:52
embark, you know, on, on that challenge of, of becoming miss
09:56
USA because we have had so many moments growing up.
10:01
Um One that sticks out in my mind vividly is I was seven years
10:04
old and I used to be fascinated by the garbage truck.
10:08
It sounds so weird.
10:09
But I was, I loved when we lived in, in the ghetto of this town
10:15
Methuen, Massachusetts.
10:15
It was the worst street, Tenny street in Methuen, Massachusetts
10:19
And people always think of Methuen and they're like, oh, it's
10:21
so like just blue collar, nice wholesome town.
10:24
I'm like, yeah, but have you gone to Tenny Street.
10:27
That's where I grew up, you know, and it was just in a low income
10:30
neighborhood and I live on the third floor of, uh, this apartment
10:35
building and we had a, there was a dumpster like in front of
10:38
our building.
10:39
I mean, that's, it's not, it wasn't a very good, you know, very
10:42
pretty place to, to grow up.
10:44
But there was a, there was this dumpster and every time the
10:47
garbage man would come, you know, the arms would lower.
10:49
And I loved how he pushed all the buttons.
10:51
And I was so fascinated.
10:52
And so when I would hear the beeping, the beep, beep, beep of
10:55
the garbage truck reversing, I would run to the living room
10:59
jump on the back of the couch and just like sit there and look
11:02
outside and be Mesmer.
11:03
And my mom was cooking in the kitchen.
11:05
And after I watched the, the garbage truck roll away, I ran
11:09
to the kitchen and I said, mommy, when I grew up, I want to be
11:14
the garbage truck driver.
11:15
That's what I want to do.
11:16
And she was like, when you grow up in Spanish, of course, when
11:21
you grow up, you could be whatever you want, whatever you want
11:25
to do.
11:25
And they were such simple words, but they were so powerful
11:28
because I, I believed my mother, you know, I'm like, this is
11:31
my mom, you know, I believe what she's saying and she mommy
11:34
said I can be anything I want.
11:36
And so no wonder when I was, you know, 14, I wanted to become
11:38
a pro professional model.
11:40
I went, I looked up, I went to Boston.
11:42
I remember 14 years old and I got a Boston phone book and I looked
11:47
under modeling agencies and I found myself an agency at 14
11:50
years old because my mom didn't know where to start with that
11:52
kind of thing.
11:52
You know, I found myself a modeling agency and no wonder when
11:56
I, you know, later on when I decided to enter my first pageant
11:58
I entered and I won my first pageant, you know, and then I became
12:01
a USA and all these things.
12:04
Thank God, I didn't become a garbage truck driver.
12:08
Yeah.
12:09
I'm glad that the aspirations changed as I got older.
12:14
But, um, but that was my mom in a nutshell.
12:17
I mean, can you imagine if your daughter tells you that she
12:19
wants to become a garbage truck driver?
12:21
Most parents would be like, hm, how about a doctor?
12:24
How about a lawyer?
12:25
How about something?
12:26
You know, how about the president of the United States?
12:28
You know, and my mom was like, you see me, huh?
12:32
I was like, awesome.
12:33
You know, she's beautiful.
12:40
You've obviously done a great job of picking moms.
12:43
I did, didn't, I thank God I did.
12:47
Yeah, I love, I love how she transitions into and then I became
12:52
a USA, I love that.
12:55
Well, you know, when I decided to become a USA, I, it was something
12:58
I studied it.
12:59
I studied it like I was taking a test.
13:02
You know, I, I, when I set a goal, I accomplished that goal and
13:07
there's no doubt in my mind that I can't accomplish that goal
13:09
And that all goes back to that garbage truck story with my mom
13:12
You know, that's why, that's what gave me the confidence that
13:15
I have in life is my mom always supporting me and telling me
13:19
you could achieve anything you want to achieve.
13:21
And I'll never forget I was in San Antonio, Texas and it was
13:24
like week one of the Miss USA pageant.
13:27
This was in 2003.
13:28
And I, you know, I talk to my family every day on the phone and
13:31
my sister, my older sister, um Marel, she was on, I was on the
13:35
phone with her and she says, so who do you think you've been
13:37
there for a week?
13:38
Like you scoped out the competition?
13:39
Like who do you think is gonna win?
13:40
Who do you think?
13:41
I'm almost like, girl, I'm like, I'm gonna win.
13:43
Who do I want my first runner up to be?
13:45
I don't know, maybe Miss Georgia, maybe, maybe South Carolina
13:47
She's pretty, I'm like, but I'm gonna win this thing.
13:50
This is why I'm here.
13:51
I'm like, I'm not here to be the first runner up or the second
13:53
runner up.
13:54
You know, so you went in with that mindset from day one.
13:58
You have to, you know, there was no doubt I would look around
14:01
and be like, yup, you are all beautiful, but I am so sorry.
14:04
This is for me to win and that's so important in, in anything
14:09
that's competitive, so, so important.
14:12
Just a brief aside.
14:13
I, I had a, a friend of mine years ago who, since, since passed
14:17
who interestingly enough was Mr Usa, a body builder.
14:21
And I asked him what it felt like to win the title, you know,
14:25
just, it's gonna be amazing to stand up there and, and, and
14:29
receive the title and said, you know, I had been through it
14:31
in my mind hundreds of times since I was a little boy that it
14:35
wasn't that big of a deal.
14:37
I done it in my mind a million times already.
14:39
Yeah.
14:40
Yeah.
14:40
Sort of the same thing.
14:41
Yeah, it is the same thing.
14:42
And I tell people often when people say, ask me the question
14:45
were you surprised?
14:47
You know, that moment, that moment where they call out, you
14:50
know, Massachusetts as Miss Usa 2003, were you shocked?
14:53
And I said, no, I wasn't and it felt like deja vu for me because
14:58
I would lay in bed and visualize what it would feel like to stand
15:04
there on the stage and have, you know, the red lights of the
15:08
cameras, like looking at those things, looking at the audience
15:11
the audience cheering.
15:12
You know what that moment would feel like the weight of the
15:15
crown being placed on my head.
15:17
I used to visualize and I used to dream about that moment and
15:21
when it happened, it felt like deja vu, it felt like I had been
15:25
through that moment already.
15:27
It's very, and that's why one of the things that I that I talk
15:29
about in my book Confidence is Queen.
15:32
The advice that I give to kids is when you set a goal and you know
15:35
what it is that you want to accomplish, dream about it, lay
15:39
in bed for five minutes every morning before you get out of
15:41
bed and just dream about yourself in that moment, write down
15:44
your goals and read, read them, do something every day that's
15:47
gonna help you get a little step closer to your goal.
15:51
And when you get there, it's gonna feel like you've already
15:53
been there because that's the energy that you've been putting
15:55
out for so much time and it works.
15:58
It's the law of the universe.
16:00
It works.
16:03
You, you visualized yourself uh uh winning the pageant.
16:09
Looking back.
16:11
Did you ever imagine how many young Latinas you would motivate
16:15
and inspire by having accomplished that?
16:21
You know, it's funny because I always, I wanted to, I wanted
16:25
to become Miss USA.
16:27
But then there was always just a little tiny hint that you're
16:29
like, OK, I'm gonna do my best, but I understand, you know,
16:31
this man, it may not happen, you know, I know I wanna win.
16:35
I know I can do it.
16:36
One of us has to win.
16:38
Um, but there was just that little in, tiny, little voice in
16:42
your head that says, oh, maybe not, you know, and I had no idea
16:47
that when I did finally accomplish that when I won it would
16:51
it would just open the door for so many Latinas to enter the
16:56
pageant.
16:57
I mean, the next year in Massachusetts alone, there were more
17:01
Latinas that entered the Miss Massachusetts USA and Miss
17:04
Massachusetts Teen USA pageant.
17:06
Um, I still to this day get whether it's Facebook messages
17:10
or Twitter messages from Latinas all over who say, you know
17:14
I never thought that a Latina could win.
17:16
So I never, I never entered myself, even though it was something
17:19
that I always wanted to do.
17:20
I just, it was always the, you know, blue eyed blonde haired
17:23
girls that would win and it was never Latinos, but you winning
17:27
gives me hope, you know, and it shows me that it can be done.
17:31
And I was like, ah, to me that just, that's amazing.
17:35
That's more than I ever bargained for, for sure.
17:38
But what an honor to, to be able to inspire young Latinos to
17:43
follow their hearts, whether it's pageantry or not.
17:46
Sure.
17:47
Well, I mean, I would imagine for every young Latina who saw
17:51
what you accomplished and was willing to go out and enter a
17:53
pageant.
17:54
There have to be tens of thousands of others who simply see
18:00
themselves as the cool kid.
18:01
Now, you know, it doesn't have to be, you know, sort of certainly
18:05
what I grew up around, which is, you know, the blonde haired
18:07
blue white, all American girl being the cute one and, you
18:10
know, dark eyes and dark hair and, uh, that's no longer the
18:14
case.
18:14
So I imagine you've, you've, you've touched so many young
18:18
girls much in the same way your mother managed to touch you
18:23
It's a, it's a beautiful thing.
18:25
It's a beautiful thing.
18:26
You've done so much.
18:28
I mean, in your, in your relatively short time on the planet
18:33
I mean, you've, uh, you know, film and TV, and, you know, uh
18:38
prestigious, uh, pageants.
18:41
What would you say you're the proudest of in terms of career
18:47
uh, in general, I guess the, what I'm, what I'm most proud
18:53
of even though I've only been in the entertainment industry
18:56
for, you know, 10 years.
18:58
Um I guess what I'm most proud of is that I'm the same human being
19:05
today that I was before I won miss USA even, you know, before
19:10
I worked at MTV, before anything before the films, before
19:15
the TV shows.
19:16
Um I'm the same person, you know, and, um, I'm so glad I never
19:23
lost touch, although my mom would never allow, allow that
19:26
to happen, but she was always such a pillar of strength that
19:30
just kept everybody grounded, you know, but she's, um, she's
19:34
fantastic human being and, and being a good person is always
19:40
first and foremost in my life, no matter where I am.
19:44
And, uh, you know, that was something of course that I learned
19:48
from my mom.
19:49
Um, but that's, that's what I'm most proud of is that I can still
19:54
you know, I go back home and I still talk to my, you know, high
19:57
school friends and my childhood friends and my cousins and
20:01
it's, I'm the same Susie, same Susie, but with, you know, different
20:05
haircut, they see me on TV now, but I'm still the same human
20:09
being.
20:10
And in this town where so many people you hear so many stories
20:15
of people being one way and then they come here and the industry
20:19
or the fame or the money changes them.
20:21
Um I've never understood why that is because if you trace back
20:27
your steps, it's who you were before that, that helped you
20:31
accomplish this greatness and, and helped you get to where
20:35
you are in life.
20:35
Why would you want to change that?
20:37
Why would you throw it away to do something else to be another
20:41
way?
20:42
It doesn't make sense to me one last question in English and
20:46
then we'll switch to Spanish.
20:49
Was there ever a point as you were coming up?
20:51
Was there ever a point where you felt perhaps some pressure
20:56
to succeed in order to pay your mom back for all her hard work
21:01
Was there ever a moment where you said, you know, I need to make
21:03
something of myself in order to sort of validate my mother's
21:08
hard work.
21:08
Can you speak to me about that?
21:09
Sure.
21:11
Um, you know, I, I think that the whole reason that I've chosen
21:18
a career path, the career path that I have was because I wanted
21:24
to repay my mother.
21:27
I mean, from day one, I remember thinking when I was a kid, like
21:30
how can I make a lot of money so that I can retire?
21:32
Mom?
21:33
Like as soon as I possibly can in her life, you know, um she's
21:37
worked really, really hard in her life.
21:40
And my ultimate dream, my biggest dream is to buy my mom a small
21:46
home with her own little land so she can retire and just get
21:51
her nails done every day.
21:52
I don't know, whatever she wants to do, she likes the garden
21:53
she can have her garden or whatever, she just deserves that
21:57
And that's, that's my dream.
21:58
You know, I've accomplished personally the things that I
22:00
wanted to do, work in this fantastic industry, you know, and
22:05
I'm able to do that and, and my dream now the goal is to, to do
22:10
that for my mother to take care of her.
22:13
You know, the way she took care of me and my sisters, those moments
22:17
of, of temptation, I mean, they're, they're, they're everywhere
22:22
in Des Moines, Iowa.
22:22
Where it, there, I can't imagine here.
22:24
Um, would you, would you hear the proverbial mom's voice in
22:30
the back of your head that people talk about it ever go on?
22:36
Does that happen as a parent?
22:37
I want to know.
22:38
Right.
22:38
Right.
22:38
Right.
22:39
Um, you know, I think, I think as a, as a parent you should know
22:44
that, that whatever you instilled in your Children, you just
22:47
have to hope that it's still there, that it's there because
22:50
I don't know that I ever heard my mom's voice, you know, like
22:53
honey, don't do that.
22:55
So it was more just the values and what she taught me growing
23:01
up, you know, as a young woman, when I got to those situations
23:05
in life, I knew what was right and what was wrong.
23:08
You know, I just had a good head on my shoulders like they say
23:12
and, you know, that head was on those shoulders the way it
23:15
was because of my mother and, and like I said, all those things
23:20
that she taught me, you know, about honesty and about loyalty
23:24
and, um, following your heart and doing what you truly want
23:27
and what's right for you.
23:29
You know, what's right for me may not be what's right for somebody
23:32
else.
23:33
Um, but I'm, I feel so thankful that I've been able to make not
23:39
always the right decision, but for the most part, you know
23:42
the, the decision that I knew would help me move forward in
23:45
my life.
23:48
I can only imagine that going through a divorce being the child
23:53
of divorced parents or separated parents at six years old
23:56
has to be a very hard experience.
23:59
Yeah.
24:00
If you could speak to a child going through that.
24:05
Now, what would you say if you could speak to the six year old
24:10
version of you who I'm sure had her insecurities in her that
24:15
I'm sure every child goes through, what would you say to her
24:19
I, I would say that everything is gonna be ok and that it's not
24:26
your fault, whatever happened, I grew up always feeling that
24:31
if I was a better child, my father would come back into our lives
24:36
And that wasn't the case no matter how difficult and how hard
24:40
I worked at becoming a better Suzie.
24:44
Um, my father never came back and it wasn't, it's funny because
24:49
you know, now, and I'm in my early thirties and, and it wasn't
24:52
until a few years ago that I realized that I've always been
24:56
a perfectionist and I never knew where that came from.
25:00
And I started tracing back my steps, you know, and, and going
25:03
back to my childhood and I realized that it was because of that
25:07
I became a perfectionist when my father left and I don't know
25:11
what it is about Children that, you know, you think that you
25:14
can fix it and you have no idea what's going on I didn't know
25:17
what my dad, you know why that happened.
25:20
And, um, all I knew is that I wanted my dad back and I thought
25:25
well, if I, if I'm a good athlete and he sees how good of an athlete
25:28
I am, if I'm a good student and he sees that I get straight A's
25:32
he's gonna want to be a part of that.
25:33
He's gonna be a part of my life and that never happened.
25:37
And it was very difficult because it was like breaking up with
25:41
somebody that you love so dearly over and over and over again
25:44
because I would accomplish something fantastic and be like
25:47
dad, look at this and I thought that was gonna be the moment
25:50
that he would come back and of course it wasn't.
25:53
And I had so many of those moments throughout my life and um
25:57
and he never came back.
25:58
And so what I would tell my six year old self is that there's
26:08
no way you can understand what's happening in the lives of
26:10
adults, especially your parents in a situation like that
26:14
And so just be happy and do what you wanna do.
26:16
And if you're gonna work hard at something, work hard because
26:19
you want to do that and you know, in your heart, you feel like
26:22
this is something that you want to do, you know, don't do it
26:25
for anybody else except for you and, and be a kid and have fun
26:31
with your friends and, you know, I, of course I did all those
26:34
things but I still, you know, I feel like a big part of me did
26:37
it to get my dad back and, um, and I'll tell you, I mean, it's
26:43
it's, it's served me because I've been able to accomplish
26:48
so much.
26:48
So I don't regret going through what I went through.
26:51
Um, you know, I, I'm a firm believer that everything happens
26:53
for a reason.
26:54
Um And I've accomplished so much and I'm sure a lot of that had
27:00
to do, you know, because I was this perfectionist in training
27:03
from the moment I was six years old.
27:05
Um But at the same time, it's um emotionally and mentally,
27:12
it was so hard on me as a kid.
27:15
Um And so that's what I would tell myself is just to chill out
27:21
and have fun and be a kid and not think of those things because
27:24
I can't, I, it just, it wasn't my fault.
27:27
It's even, it's hard to even describe and put into words because
27:32
as an adult obviously, I know that it's never a kid's fault
27:36
why parents get divorced.
27:38
But when you're a kid, you just want to fix it.
27:42
You know, all you want is your mom or dad back.
27:45
And uh and, and it was difficult, it was difficult to live with
27:49
that as a child.
27:52
The advice that I would give to anyone who's coming to this
27:55
country as my mom did.
27:56
You know, and my father uh many years ago, um you know, they
28:00
they came with hopes and dreams of a better life and giving
28:03
their families and their Children a better life than, than
28:06
they had.
28:08
Um One thing I, when I look back that I notice is those who accomplish
28:13
greatness, work really, really hard.
28:16
And as Latinos I know there's no shortage of that.
28:19
We're very hard workers, we're hard working, we are, we're
28:22
just a hard working community.
28:24
Um But you can't give up.
28:27
I see people come, they give it a little bit of time and they
28:31
don't get there yet.
28:32
And so they give up and they go back or they're like, oh, well
28:35
well, this is, you know, they, they kind of throw their hands
28:36
up in the air and they think to themselves, this is all there
28:39
is for me and they lose a little bit of their soul, I think because
28:44
of that.
28:44
And so you just can't give up.
28:46
And as long as you keep believing in yourself and believing
28:49
that you can achieve a better life for yourself, for your Children
28:54
for your family, you can absolutely do that.
28:57
I mean, there's nowhere else to go.
28:58
If that's your only focus and any, any negativity that comes
29:02
your way, just put up blinders, have these blinders and, and
29:05
know your path and continue forward.
29:08
That's all you can do.
29:09
And, and believe me, I am living proof when I say that that absolutely
29:14
works and you will absolutely get there.
29:16
The journey will be different for all of us.
29:18
But you can, you can get there.
29:20
I did.
29:21
And if I did anybody can.