What defines our nationality? Is it where we are born or where we grow up? For some, our legal status is the place where we are born but sentimentally, it’s where we grow up. However, our interviewee today is living proof of the convergence of these two definitions. Abel Torres explained: “Even though I was born in the U.S., when I was one month old, my parents moved to the Dominican Republic because that was their native country. Since I knew I was American, I always felt a special bond to the U.S. Although I was happy in the Dominican Republic, after finishing high school, I felt the need to live in this country. We have family here in Danbury so this is why I chose this city, where I feel really comfortable. I must also say that since my arrival two years ago, I fully understood why my mother always told me that when we have family, work and education, we have everything we need to be happy.
It looks like you really admire your mother. He replied: “It would be impossible not to admire a woman who, when she was very young, became a widow with three children that she raised. My mother is one of those rare human beings who will stop at nothing, someone who is not afraid of problems. For her, there is nothing impossible. There are people who give everything and people who prefer to complain. So when I decided to come, I knew she would not be here to help me, but I realized that with the values that she taught me and being a fighter like her, I could achieve my goal: to be one day a renowned entrepreneur. I want my mother to feel it was worth putting aside her own life and giving us all, because she always provided everything for us.”
Do you work? He replied very proudly, “At nineteen, I am perhaps the youngest manager at my workplace. I always receive congratulations from my superiors. That’s another thing I learned from my mother: if someone does not care to stand out at work, then he does not care to excel in life. All jobs are absolutely important. We have a responsibility to do well, because if we are going to do it wrong, then it’s best not to do it at all. The day when we all become interested in cooking, cleaning, talking, sewing, building, studying in the best way possible, then that day, we will enjoy top quality services. We must always do our best, because we must give what we want to receive. If we are mediocre, we surround ourselves with mediocrity.”
Do you like to study? Firmly, he replied: “I always hear people say things like ‘this guy did not go to college and yet today he is a billionaire,’ but the reality is that there are more college billionaires than those who did not get a degree. Studying, in my opinion, helps us succeed in life for many reasons. In college, we learn to organize our time, complete tasks, relate to other students who also learn and finally understand that not all knowledge can be obtained in four years but it is the beginning of an adventure in our professional learning. Moreover, success in life is not only making money but having a good degree. I want to be recognized as a human being and not a bank account.”
What would your final message be? “Do not put up excuses for [lack of] success. Let’s work for everything we want to accomplish, and the best time to do it is when we still are young.”
Danniella Maria Gutiérrez-Salem practiced law in Venezuela before going after her own American dream and becoming a writer in the United States. firstname.lastname@example.org.