“I was the senior class president. I was the prom king. I was the top ten percent of my class,” Ecuadorian-born Rafael Agustin said in a speech to the graduating class of Mt. San Antonio College. “I was the all-American high school student — with one small exception. I wasn’t American at all.”
It wasn’t until Agustin was on the acceptance path to the top universities in the United States that he came to this realization. The universities’ responses to his applications: “You are a perfect candidate. Can you please send us your real Social Security number?”
That didn’t deter him. Agustin found the one school that would accept him regardless of his immigration status, Mt. San Antonio College. Keeping in stride with his success, Agustin went on to earn a master’s degree from UCLA, become an actor, writer, producer, business owner and U.S. citizen. His alma mater has celebrated his accomplishments by naming him the 2015 Alumnus of the Year.
Watch his heartfelt speech — he cries a little, even if his cholo homies will give him flak.
Camila Cabello of Fifth Harmony has a heart of gold and an inspiring story. We caught up with the Cuban-Mexican beauty to talk about the things that matter most to her: family, food and the American dream. Here’s what we learned:
She Ditched Her Quinceañera to Compete in The X Factor
Many young Latinas dream of having a huge quinceañera. Not Cabello: “I didn’t want to have a quinceañera. I’m not really that type. I wouldn’t have had enough friend to invite to a party. So, I asked my parents that instead of spending money on a party if they could take me to North Carolina to audition for the TheX Factor. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Cabello says her mom keeps her grounded during moments of doubt or isolation. “There’s so many people around you that can feed things to you that are plastic. I’ve come across people who have said that who I am isn’t good enough, isn’t right, that I need to be someone else in order to have success and be cool. My mom taught me that I have to be strong enough and say, ‘This is wrong. I dont believe in this. I know what I stand for and I’m not going to let anyone shake that.’ It’s about sticking to your guns.”
Cuban-born Cabello was only five when her family moved to Mexico. A year later, her family moved to Miami. Living in the United States meant having to learn English. “I just watched a lot of cartoons and TV. I started off just watching Maya and Miguel and The Disney Channel. We never had the Disney Channel in Cuba so it was the greatest thing on earth.”
Cabello will hit the road with Fifth Harmony on a Summer tour that kicks off July 15. Cabello admits that the best part of going on tour is interacting with fans. “It’s so amazing when you get to see your fans face-to-face and have conversations. I love hugging fans. I give tons of free hugs.”
“The American Dream is the reason why all Latinos come to the U.S. My dream is to be the best version of myself. A lot of the times we come from a country like Cuba or Mexico where you are completely confined. If I wanted to be the best artist, the best musician, the best singer there’s a limit to how far I can go with that. My dream is to be able to have the best future possible. And taking care of myself and family. Most importantly to be happy.”
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