Kiara Velázquez Gómez

Kiara: The pride of her family

By Ana Castillo Muñoz

Kiara Velázquez Gómez’s shyness is noticeable from above her clothes. If there was something she was afraid of it was speaking in public. For that reason, the Boys & Girls Club was a development space for her. “I consider myself to be a very shy person and there they taught me to express myself in front of people and to be a leader, since I was not. They taught me to be different, to be me …”

Kiara came to the Club four years ago when her mother was looking for a summer camp to sign her up in. She was one of the last to sign up, so she felt a little uncomfortable at first. Then, she started frequently enrolling to participate in club activities, but it was not until her second year as a participant that she became involved in the programs. So much so, that together with some of her colleagues, they adopted a community near the Club to help. There she noticed a literacy problem that worried her. She remembers that many times, the neighbors of the community would approach them for help reading the correspondence.

For Kiara walking on the right side is of paramount importance, she says, in her shoes, a pair of high heels, she carries the story of her parents’ sacrifice. Those same shoes accompanied her until her high school graduation. Her parents have given everything for her and for her younger brother, whom she wants to lead by example. “I like to show my little brother, children, young people and adults that everything can be done … even if there are problems, everything can be done,” said the young woman.

“I am the first in my family that is studying at the university. I am the positive figure, setting an example for my cousins, “said the young woman who is currently in her first year studying Natural Sciences at the Inter-American University in Cupey.

In the process of introduction to university life, the Club played a big role in her decision- making process. According to her, they took her by the hand and helped her decide what to study in order to become an orthodontist, which is her ultimate goal. For a while, Kiara has known what she wants to do in life. “I set a goal for myself to represent my Club and today I am here. I tried twice – to become youth of the year-, and the second time I was given the opportunity and I am very proud of this accomplishment. This is of great satisfaction for me, “she says as she remembers the joy that this caused her family, especially her mother who could not hold back the emotion when they chose her daughter to be the youth representative for the Club. When she thinks of the Club, she thinks of family. Kiara is grateful that her mother took her to the Club that day, and that it was at BGCPR where she found a second home, a space where she was taught to cooperate and be respectful.

Self-knowledge was her greatest lesson: “Being me, I learned to be myself. You do not live from other people, you always have to be you and always think about your future, no matter if people say you cannot… “, she concluded.