What Means to be a Puerto Rican

As some of you may know, I am a full-time CPA licensed in the state of New York and on the side I get to do all of this – the music, the fashion blog, the acoustic gigs, the lifestyle posts and so many other creative endeavors. At times, wearing all of these hats can be extenuating, but nothing compares to how fulfilling and rewarding it is to be able to do something that you absolutely love and are so passionate about!

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to serve as the CPA who oversaw and scrutinized the voting process for the crowning of the Prince, Princess, Duke and Duchess of the 58th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade (NPRDP), which will take place this following Sunday, June 14th, along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Being part of this initiative and getting the chance to announce the winners of this year's NPRDP's Rising Star Scholarship has not only been one of the most fun experiences that I've had as a public accountant, but it was also a truly unforgettable one.

Let me explain, every year the National Puerto Rican Day Parade honors the nearly 4 million inhabitants of Puerto Rico and people of Puerto Rican birth or heritage who currently reside in the United States and who amount to over 4 million at present day. The Parade was born out of the desire to celebrate achievements within the Puerto Rican community in New York and the yearning to translate these accomplishments into a visible demonstration of our culture’s best qualities, strengths and talents.

Annually, the NPRDP hosts many social, cultural and educational events throughout the city, including a Scholarship Program better known as the Rising Star Challenge – and right there was where I was this Saturday.

The Rising Star Challenge’s mission is to empower Puerto Rican youth, while fostering and promoting our culture, the pursuit of higher education and civic engagement within the Puerto Rican community.

As the contestants walked down the Macy’s catwalk and answered the thought provoking questions made by the judges, I felt so proud of these students, who in different ways made an enormous effort to demonstrate their immense desire to excel and succeed by overcoming their circumstances. Their perseverance and determination made me that much proud of being a Boricua!

The lucky winners of this competition would not only be receiving an academic scholarship, but would also get crowned as the Prince and Princess of the NPRDP, along with the first runner-ups, who would receive the title of Duke and Duchess, and who would represent the Puerto Rican community along with the crowned Prince and Princess in the parade this Sunday.

All of these students did an exemplary job at conveying what it meant to be a Puerto Rican, but one of them really touched my heart. When asked what it meant for him to be a Puerto Rican, David Ojeda, the 2015 winner and crowned Prince of the NPRDP said that for him, being a Puerto Rican was to give the very best of yourself in everything that you did, each and every day, while continuously fighting to achieve your goals and ambitions, but in the process, it was crucial to never forget who you were and where you came from. That my friends, is what being a Puerto Rican is all about.

Until next time,