The story of a tenacious and remarkable young Latina
Ketsy Otero’s beginnings in the United States may sound familiar to you. Her story begins the same way it does for millions of Latino immigrants. In her case, it started at age of 10, when she arrived to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico with her mother and her siblings.
High school was her first test. “When I started high school I didn’t speak English properly. I was afraid of attending One Bright Ray Community High School because the teachers there only spoke English. But I did it without giving a lot of thought,” Otero said.
She told Al Día that, despite not knowing the language — she was her own English teacher — she tried, and she not only accomplished her goal of graduating within six months, she also did it with a 4.0 GPA.
Two months after her high school graduation, in 2011, she started at Harcum College. For three years she studied for her degree and at the same, she held two jobs — one as a receptionist in One Bright Ray Community High School, the other at a clothing shop — and raised two children, one of them born when she started at Harcum.
“Those three years weren’t easy because I had two little children. I don’t know how, but I made it work,” Otero said.
Language was one of her biggest handicap, but also a proof of her tenacity. “I do know English but I was afraid to speak. I did understand it and I did know how to write it, but I was afraid of speaking in front other people. However, in One Bright Ray I had no choice, because my teachers only English. So, I made an effort, even if the students made fun of me.”
In December 2014, at the age of 23, Ketsy Otero finished her degree in human services and she graduated from Harcum College May 9. It is an experience that Otero describes as “super exciting, because I achieved one of my goals. I’m the first in my family who graduates from college, so it’s been a pride for my family too.”
A few days after her graduation, Otero is thinking about her next goal: “I would like to attend a four-year college. I would love to become a FBI agent. I’ll also apply for police academy and If they select me I will try to get this too,” she said.
She wants to became a police agent because of her desire to help the community. “I would love to help the community. I have noticed female police agents are very much needed. Also, being Hispanic and speaking both languages could be very helpful.”
For now she is a role model to people who came to a country where everything, even the language, seems unknown. “Being Hispanic and living in the United States is an honor. I see a lot of Latinos here, but some of them don’t speak English. For example, my mom. She was afraid to look for a job because she didn’t speak English.”
“I think that having the opportunity to learn (English) and pulling though was amazing,” Otero added. “My experience is a good example for people who leave their country. Because it doesn’t matter where do you come from, you can be whomever you want to be.”