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Latinas Striving for Greater

Born and raised in the barrio (ghettos) of Vega-Baja, Puerto Rico, the two sisters talk about their journey into the United States.

Meet…

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Sisters Jerimar and Jessmar Emmanuelli, who believe College is a place where dreams can become reality and hard work is learned to succeed in life.

Why they are interesting…

Born and raised in the barrio (ghettos) of Vega-Baja, Puerto Rico, the two sisters talked about their journey into the United States.

“It’s different, you know? Here, everyone minds their own business. There, nobody sleeps; they sell drugs on every corner. We call those corners El Punto (The Point),” Jessmar said.

“We were used to living there,” Jerimar explained, “I liked the noise at night. People knew my grandmother was religious so they never overstepped boundaries. We also had a furious dog and my daddy had a gun—and besides, everyone knew he worked as security in the jail.”

As people ran the streets, the Emmanuelli’s stayed clear with iron bars as gates around the house. The iron bars were seen as a necessity because people would break into homes within their own neighborhoods.

For the mother of the Emmanuelli family, the barrio was no place for three children to obtain a successful life.

The Emmanuelli sisters described school in Puerto Rico as easy; you did not have to go, all you needed was a parent slip.

“I did not see [anything] wrong, it was just an everyday thing,” Jessmar stated.

The two girls moved to the United States with their brother who is also a student at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.

“My mom thought it was best for our education to go to the states,” Jerimar said. “My mom had friends in Ohio that she stayed with until she found a job.”

At ages 14 and 15, the girls packed their belongings and headed across the ocean.

“To be honest, my first thought was that everything looked the same, the people did too. It was confusing,” Jerimar said.

As time flew by, their education grew.

The siblings had no choice but to go to college, according to their mother.

Jessmar was and still is determined to teach the language of her homeland correctly and plans to be a college-level Spanish professor. She is also proud of her younger sister and excited to see Jerimar fulfill all her heart’s desires.

“I dream to one day fly airplanes across multiple oceans, through Italy and Rome and view the architecture and sculptures around the world,” Jerimar said.

Jerimar sets sail early next year with the U.S. Navy, so that the classes she needs in order to be granted an Aviation license can be paid for.

“My father used to tell me about the Air Force, but my mother never agreed. That is why I started off in the graphic design,” Jerimar said. “Since I’m older and can decide for myself, I want to be in the military.”

They said they would love to visit the Island again, but moving back is not something they would do.

“You can’t honk at someone when the light turns green and they just sit there, because they will jump out of their car and come after you,” Jerimar said, “I’ll visit, but it’s too much to be afraid of.”

The two girls take pride in where they come from, the ghettos of Vega-Baja, Puerto Rico.

“It is a blessing for us to be able to use our street smarts to perform our best. And education means money and with money, you can escape the barrio,” Jerimar ended.

 

2014

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