Culture

In One Week This Latina Became Homeless, Her Mom Abandoned Her, Yet She Landed A Huge Scholarship That Changed Her Life

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Anya Sifuentes knows how to outrun adversity. The high school athlete from Northside High School in Arkansas has overcome homelessness and is now on her way to college.

And so much of her success has to do with her strength and determination, key traits of any prime athlete.

Last October, Sifuentes, went home after school to find she was permanently locked out of her own home.

“It was late September that things just started getting strange,” Sifuentes explained in an interview with CBS affiliate KFSM-TV. “On October 1, I went home right after I went after school and realized that I couldn’t get in my home anymore.”

The reason why Sifuentes and her family were expelled from their home is unknown but according to CBS, as soon as she learned the news she went straight to her track coach.

“She called me and she was just distraught,” Jeff Smith, Sifuentes’ track coach told CBS News. “I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ She goes, ‘I’m homeless. I don’t have any clothes. I don’t have a place to go.'”

Sifuentes’ story took a turn for the even worse when her mother told her that she was leaving the family as well.

“My mom started really acting weird and you could tell that she was late on all of her bills and she wasn’t acting the same anymore,” Sifuentes said. “My mom said that ‘I’m not gonna stay with y’all.’ I thought, ‘Why?'”

Left to raise two younger siblings and a nephew, Sifuentes says she realized she had to step up and take things into her own hands. “To think that we’d be separated — I did not like the feeling,” she said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be the same anymore.”

Determined to keep her siblings and family together, Sifuentes took on multiple jobs, got her family into a new apartment and started to sign the checks for bills. This, all while attending classes and going to track practice.

“It just slaps you in the face — knowing that you’re an adult now,” Sifuentes explained in an interview. “You can’t play around now. You can’t just slack off one day because it will hit you later.”

Still, despite all of the stress she had over money and keeping her family together, Sifuentes says she overcame her depression by keeping her goal of being happy in mind.

“I set a goal in my mind. I have a goal to be happy, even though all this is going on and my family doesn’t seem like a family anymore,” Sifuentes said. “I’m depressed and I’m stressed and money is overwhelming right now. I thought to myself, ‘God is the only thing that’s going to get me through all this pain.'”

Running became an outlet for the teen, and eventually, it became her champion.

This past year, the high school senior was offered a scholarship by the University of the Ozarks to run for their team. She signed with them last month and will be headed to their track field in the coming Fall semester.

“I just look back and think, ‘This is who you are. You’re someone strong,'” Sifuentes stated on her impression of herself after overcoming so much. “You don’t give up easily. Even though times get rough, you have to keep going. Even though you fall down, you have to keep going.”

Simone Biles Slayed During The U.S. Gymnastics Championships And Made History Twice And Here’s Why It’s A Big Deal

Entertainment

Simone Biles Slayed During The U.S. Gymnastics Championships And Made History Twice And Here’s Why It’s A Big Deal

To say, American gymnast, Simone Biles can’t practice her athletic art form under pressure is to completely misunderstand her strength. The 22-year-old from Colombus, Ohio, has already accomplished what many can’t even fathom. This week the Olympic gold medalist made history on the competitive mat just a couple of days after she confronted the USA Gymnastics for failing to protect her, and more than 150 women, from a sexual predator. 

On August 11, Simone Biles landed perfectly after doing a triple-double at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City. 

Let us break down what that actually means because it truly is a thing of beauty. Biles successful jumped into the air and completed two flips and three full twists and stuck the landing. She tried to do this exact move on Friday but failed on the landing. This time, however, Biles landed it amazingly. She’s the first woman to have ever completed this move. 

This move is no easy fete for the 4’8 gymnast. As someone on social media noted, Biles, at the peak of her jump, is close to 10 feet off the mat, which is two feet higher than the high jump world record. Insanity!!

On Friday, she also made history by pulling off a double-double dismount off the balance beam. 

That means she did two twists and two somersaults like its no one’s business. All of these historic firsts garnered Biles a record-tying sixth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. So who could possibly have the same title as Biles? No one in the past several decades, that’s for sure. In the 1940s and 1950s, American gymnast Clara Schroth Lomady also received the same honor of sixth all-around. 

After her historical landing, Biles was quite pleased with her performance. 

Credit: Instagram/@simonebiles

“That feeling when you make history…. twice,” she said on Instagram. And this is all build-up to the main event. Biles, of course, is headed to Tokyo next year for the 2020 Olympics, where’s she’s naturally going to add on to her gold medals, but no pressure. (!!!)

Her incredible routine is quite impressive when you consider that the star athlete is competing for organizers who were enablers in her own sexual abuse.

Last year, a Michigan judge sentenced Dr. Larry Nassar, a physical therapist, 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than a hundred gymnasts some were as young as six years old. The abuse lasted for decades, and Biles was one of his victims. 

On August 7, Biles told reporters that it was the U.S. Gymnastics Championships and other institutions that assisted Nassar in his abuse by protecting him.

“You had one job. You literally had one job, and you couldn’t protect us,” Biles said in her addressed statement to USA Gymnastics, according to CNN. ‘It’s hard coming here for an organization, having had them fail us so many times. We had one goal. We have done everything that they asked us for, even when we didn’t want to, and they couldn’t do one damn job.”

Despite Biles’ horrific abuse she endured, her moves on the mat show her incredible strength and dedication to the sport.

Credit: Instagram/@simonebiles

The Texan native said she wasn’t sure if she’d succeed in those now-groundbreaking landings. She said, however, that she was striving for ultimate perfection, even if that meant failing the first time. Sounds like she’s a firm believer of the motto, “if at first, you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again.” 

“I feel like I compete for perfection,” she told the Olympic Channel days before her competition, “so whenever I don’t do that, it really irritates me.” 

Biles also told the network that she doesn’t even think about her titles and records until someone brings it up to her in conversation. Talk about humble. If Biles doesn’t do the bragging, her friends and fans will do it for her. 

Several fans, including celebs, touted her magical moves on Twitter.

As for the future of gymnastics in the U.S., and their beloved athletes, Li Li Leung, the president, and chief executive of USA Gymnastics, told CNN, that understand they are to blame for their part in their abuse and are doing everything they can to change the culture of silence. 

“One of our goals is for our athletes to feel comfortable in speaking up and sharing their opinions, and we are listening to what they have to say,” Leung said. “We will continue to work hard to demonstrate to Simone and all of our athletes, members, community, and fans that we are working to foster a safe, positive and encouraging environment where athlete voices are heard.” 

Now on to the Olympics!

READ: We’re ‘Un Poco Loco’ Over This Mexican Gymnast’s ‘Coco’ Floor Routine And Charro-Inspired Outfit

Best Selling Author Elizabeth Acevedo’s Book ‘With The Fire On High’ Is Going To Be Turned Into a Movie

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Best Selling Author Elizabeth Acevedo’s Book ‘With The Fire On High’ Is Going To Be Turned Into a Movie

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Lately, Afro-Dominican author and poet Elizabeth Acevedo has gotten a lot of well-deserved praise for the incredible writings she has contributed to the literary world. Back in June of 2019, Acevedo’s “Poet X” won the prestigious Carnegie Medal — making her the first writer of color to ever receive the honor. The writer also released her second book, “With The Fire On High,” to esteemed reviews back in May of the same year. 

Now, the Latina creator is getting another honor to add to her distinguished resume. 

Her book, “With The Fire On High,” has been picked up by a production company with plans to develop it into a movie. 

Twitter / @AcevedoWrites

It was announced on Monday, August 5th that the production company, Picturestart, acquired the rights to the New York Times bestselling novel and will produce a film that Acevedo will adapt for the big screen. Picturestart was launched earlier this year by Former Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-president Erik Feig. This adaptation will be one of the production company’s first. Feig and Executive Vice-President of Picturestart, Lucy Kitada, are set to produce the film for the company. As of now, there is no date or time frame for the film in these early stages of its development.  

“With The Fire On High” tells the story of protagonist Emoni Santiago. The 17-year-old Philadelphian works through the challenges of becoming a single mother during her freshman year of high school. Despite many hardships, Santiago finds that the one place she can still feel free is the kitchen. The magic, love, and kindness she puts into her dishes make both her and everyone who tastes them happy. However, as much she likes to cook, Santiago feels its an impossible dream to pursue so she is conflicted about pursuing it. Still, she can’t help the way she feels when she turns up the heat and creates something new. 

On Twitter, fans and colleagues alike celebrated Acevedo’s newest project. 

Twitter / @YesikaStarr

Fellow Latina writer, Yesika Salgado, took to Twitter to congratulate Acevedo. As the Salvadorean says in her tweet, the “With The Fire On High” author really seems to be on a winning streak lately. We’re glad to see her getting all the accolades she deserves. 

As this tweet points out, Acevedo’s news is very needed after this weekend’s tragedies. 

Twitter / @GlamBelle9

After a weekend filled with so much pain, the Latinidad is in desperate need of some happy news so this announcement comes as a beautiful win for all of us. Acevedo was raised by immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. To see her succeed in the ways that she has is both inspirational and so gratifying for our Latinx and immigrant communities.

Some supporters expressed their excitement to see Acevedo’s characters on the big screen. 

Twitter / @juliaerin80

This new film deal means that we will see Emoni and all of the book’s other characters brought to life. Seeing more films with protagonists of color not only opens more roles up to Black and brown actors, but it also provides an opportunity to see ourselves and our community is reflected by Hollywood. 

Most of all, Acevedo’s fans and supporters were just really excited for the Latina writer. 

Twitter / @IAmKingBey

Acevedo’s announcement was full of reactions from friends, fans, and supporters and they all echoed the same excitement and happiness for the author. GIFs and reaction images expressed just how proud they are to hear the Dominicana’s news. Her mentions were basically a big celebration. 

We’re very happy for Acevedo and can’t wait to see her book come to life. It’s another example of what can be accomplished with Latina excellence. 

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