MINT HILL, NC – Moving to a new place during high school isn’t easy. Moving to a new country where you don’t speak the language well is even harder. Imagine doing all of that in 2020, at the beginning of COVID, and you’ll have a window into Independence High School graduate Dianne Juarez Reyes’ high school experience.
Dianne and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico. “I remember when it was my first day of high school where I was full of fear, insecurity and uncertainty,” says Reyes. “I got lost when I got to my classes, and my classmates rescued me, and from that moment, they helped me to overcome and manage that fear and feel more confident and courageous.” Although it was frightening at the time, Reyes now considers the memory of how her classmates and teachers helped her one of her fondest of high school.
Of course, the past three years haven’t passed without obstacles. “One of the challenges I had in high school was at first the language,” admits Reyes. “Without having the language at a very fluent level, I lost out on different activities that I liked for fear of not being able to communicate perfectly, but over time I lost my fear of speaking, and I became a very sociable girl. I never let that fear take over me and what has always characterized me as Dianne is my persistence, curiosity and not losing my goals.”
Dianne also found inspiration in a teacher with a similar story. “One of the things that I remember the most that happened in my last year was the impulse and inspiration of a teacher who at some point was in myself situation to enter the university and showed me the right path to obtain scholarships and be admitted by various universities,” she explains.
Dianne’s persistence paid off. Next year she’ll attend Wingate University on a full scholarship. “My goal is to make the best possible use of academic and extracurricular activities to obtain the necessary tools to help me complete my university studies and obtain the resources that are necessary and that this will help me in my daily life training,” she says.
Dianne encourages other teens who are new to the US or struggling with English not to give up and to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them. “The advice I can give you is not to waste any tool because at some point it will be useful even though it may not seem like it at first,” she says. “Never lose sight of your goal even if the people around you do not always want the best for you and try to convince you that you will not achieve it. Fight and strive to achieve what you want.”