Open Letter to the Leadership Public Schools Richmond Cross Country Coaches Who Believed in Me

Dear Cross Country Coaches,

At the beginning of this year’s Cross Country season, I was filled with self-doubt and claimed I could not run faster than I already was. I was worried other teams were faster than ours, specifically other girls who ran faster than me. I remember being winded at the beginning of Cross Country, but I grew enough to shave down my time. Most importantly, I remember the struggle. I failed to meet my own standards, my own unrealistic expectations, but I also remember both of you being patient.

I realized how fortunate I was to have people who believed in me. I remember noticing the other teams mainly lacked in minorities and it made me anxious. I worried the other teams had better training and more resources than I did. I believe that because others didn’t struggle as much as I was struggling that they were better. As we warmed up and lined ourselves up for the race, my heart felt as if it was going to jump out of my chest.

My mind filled with self-doubt, and my shaking hands didn’t make me feel any better. As we were about to run, I remembered your words Moran, “Remember, we’ve improved plenty since day 1, you got this.” Not only did these words build my confidence, I learned to apply that to every scenario in my life. After a long, challenging, and gruesome year, I learned to truly persevere.

I didn’t think that I would make it to graduation day, but I stood there in the graduate section with my embroidered sash around my neck and feeling my nerves throughout my body. As my name was called, I walked up with weak knees and sheer determination. You, Moran, my main source of support on stage, welcoming me on the UC Berkeley campus. As I walked across that stage, I remembered a few things.   

First and foremost, this is my moment.

Just like in Cross Country, regardless of who came on my behalf and who did not, this is still my moment. The presence of others did not testify my diligence, effort, and significance. Regardless of whether my biological parents or my close friends made an appearance, I worked extraneously to be there. I was not going to let an individual get in the way of my success.

As my biological parents presented themselves in front of me with mouths full of insults, I realized another thing. As my dear friend and salutatorian, Jonathan Alvarado, stated, “from now on these are {my} mistakes to own and {my} successes to celebrate.” Unlike the majority of graduates, I lacked unconditional faith from my parents, but I didn’t lack yours. Thank you, Ruiz and Moran, for stretching me in Cross Country and thickening my skin to withstand anything and everything. Thank you for believing me, when I failed too and making me feel valued.

As you both claimed in my yearbook to have admired my maturity and courage, but really I have come to admire both of you. I’m impressed by the level of support and care that I’ve received from both of you. As a low-income, first generation, DACA student, I believed education wasn’t meant for me, but you both make me feel like I can have it all. If every education system had educators like you, who knows how far students could go? Thank you for supporting me in high school and even now while I’m at UC Berkeley. You both are models of the person I hope to be.

Your favorite Starbucks Barista,

Yendy Rebollo

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Yendy Rebollo

Yendy Rebollo

Yendy Rebollo is an independent, low-income, first-generation, undocumented or rather DACA-mented, woman of color navigating higher education at the University of California Berkeley. She has been an independent student since her senior year of high school, when she ran away from her abusive parents. It is in that same year, Yendy became a published writer with Yendy is currently double majoring in Ethnic Studies and Comparative Literature with a Minor in Education. She strives to attend law school as soon as she is finished with her Bachelor’s degree.

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