Emiliana H. is a soft spoken girl with dark, wavy hair and kind eyes and a strength beyond her years. She has lived in Lawrence her entire life. Her mother was from Lawrence and her father from Boston. Growing up in the city wasn’t always easy for her, she was bullied for more than a few years, and she coped by trying to stay composed during the school day but would rush home after school to her mom in tears, seeking comfort. And her mother never failed to provide it. Her mom was her confidante and her friend and she would listen to Emiliana’s worries and sadness and then start making her laugh. She always knew how to lighten her daughter’s heart.
And she read. Emiliana is a voracious reader sometimes going through two to three books a day. By sixth grade, although she refers to herself at that age as “immature” she had begun thinking about high school and planning for her future. Greater Lawrence Technical School seemed the perfect fit for her to accomplish her dream. Her mother and her step-father, both graduates of GLTS encouraged her to apply. She was thrilled to be accepted but did have to convince her mother that her preferred major of cosmetology was right for her. Her mom wanted her to go into health careers, but when Emiliana made up her mind, her mother relented.
Emiliana joined track for a while and struggled with math but found her passion in English class and in her major. She is eager to learn and she loves doing manicures, “taking someone’s hand and just painting their nails” is such a wonderful way to connect to someone.
And then tragedy struck. Last month, Emiliana’s mother passed away suddenly, unexpectedly leaving her bereft. And so she read. Her favorite book, “Another Day” by Daniel Levithan, is the story of a Being who inhabits the life of a different individual for twenty-four hours, experiencing life through their perspective. It follows simple rules: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. If only it were so simple for Emiliana. “Sometimes, I wish someone would take over my life and I wouldn’t have to remember the last few months.”
“I’ve been through a lot,” sighs Emiliana. “Dealing with other people’s issues is difficult right now – everyone depends on me and I have so much on my shoulders.” Her younger brother and sister need her.
She is grateful that she is at GLTS while she deals with this crisis. She credits her guidance counselor, Mrs. Abdullah, for helping her through the last few months. Her door is always open and she listens. And her favorite teacher, Mrs. Berube, who has given Emiliana her time, her attention, and her friendship. It’s no wonder that when asked what her dream is Emiliana doesn’t hesitate to answer that she wants to be an English teacher like Mrs. Berube.
“Everyone says they don’t know how I’m being strong through all this,” she explains. “I have grown a lot from freshman year to now, I’m trying to focus on my work because I know what’s important now.” Emiliana is teaching all those around her the meaning of strength.