I was born in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. I was my mother’s third child at the age of 21. My father had a middle school education and had been working on sugar cane fields in Puerto Rico since he was a child. Being raised in the 80’s in Philadelphia I was exposed to prevalent drug use and gang activity. The crack epidemic left half of the houses in my neighborhood abandoned. This neighborhood gave very little hope for a future outside of that of my family’s history. My parents were first generation Puerto Ricans who were the first in my family to raise their children in the United States. It was a transition as both of my parents were raised as farmers and now my father and mother had to transfer their work ethic to the jobs available to them. My father, in an effort to seek the best job he could, would drive his bike from Kensington to Cherry Hill, New Jersey every morning. My mother would often work two or three part time jobs at a time while raising three young children. Their drive and perseverance has become a motivating force in my practice.
When I sit at a wheel I often think of my father’s bike tire spinning, and this metaphor has always has me reach for more, because if he could make that sacrifice for my future it is up to me to make something of it.