It’s 2008 and there I was, standing on a subway platform, in downtown Manhattan waiting for my train, not to board it… but to jump in front of it. Fresh out of family court, feeling tired and very much defeated after going in convinced that my days of physical, mental, financial, and sexual abuse were over.
I had absolutely no idea who I was, born and raised in the Dominican Republic with complete confusion over my “duties” as a woman—under the boot of an extremely patriarchal upbringing. That is how I ended up forced into an extremely toxic marriage at a very young age, and became homeless as a result. I taught myself English when I was 17 years old, and after many wrong turns I became the first woman in my entire family line to leave her abusive partner.
The very core of who I am has always been connected to science, even before I knew what science actually was. I‘ve always craved a deeper understanding of the world around me, this was a need which was never satisfied growing up, and it actually became a huge source of anxiety for me. I never had exposure to STEM or even any knowledge of it, so there was no way for me to know that my passion actually has a name. I used to be obsessed with knowing the “how” of everything, and as cliché as this will probably sound, I always wanted to go into space. The universe (which to me consisted of the Moon and the Sun only) has always been a source of peace for me. I always wanted to study it, but I had no idea that such a thing could be done—let alone by someone like me, or women were allowed to. These circumstances never stopped me from dreaming of it, but as time went by however I went ahead with life trying to be what I thought I was supposed to be.
After overcoming seemingly endless biases, spousal abuse, horrible relationships in search of self worth, homelessness, the death of a daughter, raising a son as a single mother, and surviving getting struck by a car in 2017, I have become *unapologetically* vocal about my life, and even my own strength–because not everyone is born into good circumstances, or is able to follow “traditional” paths in life. Some individuals, like me, have to rely on survival to even dare to dream. As a result, I have started to use my awareness to move forward, and found myself determined to challenge whatever stereotypes I face when chasing my goals. This rebellious and non-traditional pursuit has made me gain some notoriety which can be difficult at times, but it’s also an opportunity to help others along the way.
It’s been an arduous road to say the least, but I continue to persist, using my life as an example of how factors like background, race, and orientation should not be used to discount ability, or to measure anyone’s worth.
In the end, perseverance is my true superpower.