I guess you could say that I am GRITS – a “Girl Raised In the South.” However, that would not completely and accurately describe who I am. While I do come from good southern hospitality and Creole cooking, I also come from a Hispanic mother who has never forgotten her Honduran roots. I am fortunate enough to come from two seemingly different, yet similar heritages which both heavily value family, hard work, honesty, and integrity. Ever since I can remember my father’s side of the family has met twice each year for a reunion of some sort funded by an account my dad and his six brothers and sisters set up in honor of my grandmother in order to keep the family together and strong in the wake of her absence. Through these semi-annual get-togethers I have experienced the value of tradition, family, and dedication. Additionally, I learned how my mother’s family values the family because every year my grandparents travel from poor Honduras just to visit us. They also made a special trip when my mother went through back surgery one January; my grandparents cannot tolerate any exposure to cold weather; however, they braved the winter in New Orleans as opposed to Honduras because they value family so much. Not only has my unique heritage shaped who I am, but the city in which I live has also had a strong influence on me. As I grew up in New Orleans surrounded by a deep, rich culture and people from all different walks of life, it has become clear that social diversity, acceptance, and love for your neighbor are essential to live happily and with great opportunities. As a result, I have grown into an independent, strong, tolerant, and accepting individual. When asked where I am from, with great pride I respond, “New Orleans.” To my amazement, without saying any more, others immediately know much about me because just the name of the city evokes such characteristics as strength, resilience, and love of life that are reflected in its citizens, including me.