When asked who I look up to the most, I would say my parents. Who wouldn’t? Now, giving some more thought to that question, the answer is now my parents and my Tia Julia. To give you readers a bit of context, saying “thank you” isn’t enough for me. My Tia deserves much more than a thank you and some flowers. She deserves the world. Unfortunately, I am unable to give her that, so I’ll start with this and work my way upwards.
She is an exceptional person all around. To me, she is also a second mom. She’s been there for me every step of the way. Not only is she there for me, but she takes the time to understand me and my complex emotions. She also happens to be my godmother. For example on March 18, 2022, I was informed that I was officially going to the Governor’s Academy, that same day I was informed that I didn’t get into any selective enrollment schools. I was crying profusely. I was so agitated with myself, I just kept thinking “What did I do wrong?” My Tia was right beside me to tell me that I did nothing wrong and she reminded me that I still got into Gov’s. That’s when the good news actually hit me. I was so upset with myself that I didn’t even realize something amazing had just happened. She recorded every second of this breakdown. That was a significant moment in my life and of course she was there to experience it with me. Tia if you’re reading this please never show that video to anyone.
In order for you readers to get to know her let’s start from the beginning shall we? My Tia Julia is the oldest of four children. My mom is the youngest, and there is a ten-year age gap between them. Growing up in a Hispanic household, I am sure there are a thousand stories that she can tell me, but the one that is the most pertinent to the story took place when my Tia was in elementary school. On the day of her parent-teacher conferences at school, my Tia brought my grandma to her teacher and braced herself for the worst beating of her life. One thing about my grandma is that she doesn’t like to be embarrassed. By this, I mean she didn’t want her children to act like they weren’t raised correctly. Do you think my Tia cared at the time? No, she did not. My grandma was told that my Tia talked way too much and never turned in any work. Let’s just say my Tia ran faster than Usain Bolt to her room when she got home. From then on, she fixed her behavior. Her motivation definitely came from the fact that she didn’t want to be hit again. This story was just to prove that her dedication to school started at a young age, regardless of why she was motivated to care more. I always think back to this story because one, it’s hilarious to me and two, it’s a reminder to me that school should always be as important to me as it was to her after what my grandma did.
Her life was never easy. My grandparents were in an unhappy marriage, and as the oldest, she was expected to take care of her siblings when any arguments started brewing. Unfortunately, my grandma and grandpa made it extremely hard for my Tia to want to be home, so she ran right into the arms of her abusive ex-husband. For nearly a decade, she stood with that man. For nearly a decade, she was stuck with someone who didn’t make her happy. She deserved so much better, but she couldn’t see that. My Tia is so resilient. Again, she bounced back from a situation that some people can’t come back from. I think the biggest takeaway from this situation was that she now knows her worth. She is now happy and successful.
My tia is not only an inspiration to me but she’s an inspiration to my old classmates as well. I know that sounds confusing but let me tell you the story. Last year my school had a career fair. This meant that they were gonna bring people in to talk to us about their careers essentially. Unfortunately we were unable to ask people to come but my Tia needed no invitation from me because my mom recommended she come to talk to us. I remember her being so nervous that as soon as I sat down with the rest of my class in the room she was in I could just tell by her body language. The look on her face also had a lot to do with my analysis of her emotions. Anyway, she did amazing! She told us about her businesses as an entrepreneur and her many many bachelor’s degrees. For weeks after her visit to the school my classmates and teachers kept telling me how amazing she was. I of course think that she was beyond amazing. Not only does she have an impact on me but she has one on others as well.
One specific memory I have from a time that she helped me in a big way started a few years ago. Back in 2020 I joined a robotics team. Now I know you’re probably thinking, “How did your Tia contribute to that?” Well, for starters, she got me connected with the team. My team was created by my Tio Rick but I never really talked to that side of my family but my Tia Julia did so of course without me asking she told them I would be a perfect fit for the team. Of course, soon after I joined the team, flash forward to 2021 after a great season in 2020 my team and I were able to attend in person competitions. We worked so hard and it was really paying off. We attended a big competition at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Then to finish off our season in 2022 we made it to worlds which was in Dallas, Texas. While all of this was happening, behind the scenes my Tia was donating thousands of dollars to my team, which helped us pay for our trip to Dallas. Without her I would have never been on the team. She motivated me to try something new, though she always does. There’s never been a time where she’s told me that I couldn’t do something. In fact she thinks I should be involved in more things. I learned that from her, be involved as much as you can. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done it before, try it and see how you like it. She’s inspired me to do so much from robotics to learning how to play the guitar this year. No matter what I know my Tia always has my best interest in mind. I don’t know where I would be without her and for that I will be forever grateful. To my favorite Tia, best friend, second mom, and biggest inspiration, I love you so much thank you for all that you’ve done.
Natalia Rosa – The Governor’s Academy – DMSF Class of 2026
Photo Credit: Veronica Flores (my mom) | Pictured: Julia Flores (my tia) & Natalia Rosa (me)