I always loved music. There was always music at home. Being a kid, you would always see me singing and dancing everywhere (that still happens). Mom says she sang to me constantly before I was born. Little did she know that music would become the center of my life, impacting my upbringing, allowing me to travel the world, and ultimately, shaping who I am and who I want to be.
My story begins in Cartagena (Colombia) where I was born 31 years ago. Mom and Dad did not get along and got a divorce when I was 1 year old. So, Mom became my entire world, and I hers. We moved to Bogota. Her unconditional dedication to helping me reach the best of my potential is the reason I am the happy, self-sufficient, professional individual writing this article today. She always wanted to play the guitar but never got herself around it, so she decided she was going to live vicariously through me. She took me to my first music lesson at the age of 4 where I started learning the piano, and at 7 I transitioned to the violin, falling completely in love with the instrument. I remember being 12 or so and saying: “I will be a professional violinist someday”. Long story short, the violin became my life companion and a way to define who I was at a very young age. It provided me with identity, teaching me responsibility, resilience, discipline, and the inner need to always do my very best in every endeavor. My childhood was split between school and the conservatory of music where I took violin lessons, music theory/history classes, and attended orchestra rehearsals. At home, I organized my time between homework, practicing my violin as much as possible, helping my mom taking care of the house, and enjoying different activities such as riding my bike, roller skating, watching cartoons, climbing trees, and reading.
The notion of being successful and accomplished was always connected to my musical achievements, whether it was a performance, an award, or a scholarship. All of my studies were paid in full by scholarships. “What a blessing!” my mom always says. It was actually a scholarship offer that opened the doors of the “American Dream” for me. Back in 2008, Oklahoma City University accepted me for a Bachelors's in Violin Performance. With only a suitcase and my violin, I dove into a whole new universe; and I say universe because to my very young and naïve eyes this new country was overwhelmingly enormous in every way. I was now alone, learning a new language, and starting a new life where it only depended on me to make the right choices to survive, and beyond that, to make the most out of this wonderful opportunity given to me. From my very arrival, I experienced firsthand two things: the inherent challenges of life, and the power of kindness and compassion. I will spare you all the (now) amusing details of that August 18th of 2008. A story for another time. But I will tell you this much: my flight was delayed, the person that was supposed to pick me up at the airport did not show, and a family that saw me alone and troubled helped me get to the University; total strangers that I had no other option but to trust. Angels!