“When I first came here, it was hard, I didn’t know English,” Yaribel Genao said. Aside from not knowing English, Genao was also pressured by her parents to do better than her seven siblings, who did not finish school. “My father expects a lot from me. He expects me to get far,” Ms. Genao said.
Genao, a 16-year-old rising senior, reveals her struggles and accomplishments since moving from the Dominican Republic to the United States – including having to live with many messy siblings in a crowded apartment, four of whom she had never previously met. “It was hard to get to know each other; they were messy and we were fighting all the time,” Genao said. Now, she lives with only three siblings and her father. “I feel more comfortable, now no one’s bothering me,” she stated.
This Marble Hill high school student has achieved much since arriving from the Dominican Republic. She is motivated to go to college by those around her, she says, and dreams of pursuing a career as a journalist or as a registered nurse.
Since moving, she has felt pressured and encouraged, and has high expectations and hopes of “becoming someone” in life, she said, adding that since then, she has done nothing but strive to do her very best.
Her mother, who lives in the Dominican Republic, has been living there for the past five years; nevertheless, she has pushed Genao to do her very best from a distance. According to Genao, her mother is a hardworking person whom she sees as a role model.
Since her parents expect her to do well in school, Genao has pushed herself to achieve her goals. “It’s one of the reasons I work hard,” she said.
Nicole Reyes, a close friend of Genao, agreed with her. “She cares a lot about education and is always worried about her grades,” Reyes said. “It’s really important to her.”
So far, Genao has been doing well, despite the initial language barrier.
“I passed all my regents and have all my credits,” she said. She also stated that she has been involved in a lot of community service and some school clubs during her high school years. She has been involved in the health club, and Tech Bridge, where she learned how to build a computer. She has also done community service in various areas from the Yankee Stadium, to a senior center in Queens, to her local church.
When she is not focused on schoolwork, Genao spends time with her friends joking around and making fun of each other. “She’s always making funny jokes and makes others laugh,” said Reyes, Ms. Genao’s friend.
According to Reyes, Genao is a good friend. “She tells me when I’m wrong. No matter how hard the truth is, she’s honest,” she said.
Genao is also passionate about sports. She enjoys softball and is part of the school’s softball team, basketball – she is a Heat fan, – and baseball – she is a Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez fanatic. “I want to visit all baseball stadiums,” she stated, adding that so far she has only visited one, the Yankee Stadium.
In addition to her passion for sports, Genao enjoys listening to music of all types and is always watching television. “I don’t like reading,” she said. “I watch television.”
Having dealt with some struggles along her way, Genao has managed to keep herself on track. She is a hard worker and pushes herself to do well in and outside of school. Those around her have impacted her life and have motivated her in working hard to become someone successful.
She says she lives by her high school teacher’s motto: “The more you do, the better you get.”