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He Can’t Run But He’s Finishing the Boston Marathon

Meet Maickel Melamed:

He suffers from hyptonia.

Melamed has difficulty walking, but he’s already completed four marathons.

Adelante no es un camino, ni una dirección. Adelante es una actitud. #FelizDía A photo posted by Maickel Melamed (@maickelmelamed) on

He’s currently taking on the Boston Marathon.

That’s Melamed on the course with fans cheering him on.

Melamed is in Boston representing Proyecto Vamos.

Con estas preciosas miradas me voy a dormir soñando con un mañana para ellos y el esfuerzo de dar el alma en cada paso para que bellezas como ellos tengan un mundo más humano y de acuerdo a lo grandioso de su ser. Ellos luchan por vivir y nosotros porque en su vida todo sea posible. Ellos nuestra causa y sentido. Mañana será un día cargado de sentimientos, mi último entrenamiento en Venezuela después de 6 años de esfuerzos. Un honor que me hayan permitido ser parte de un grupo de gente maravillosa llamados corredores #Gracias … Para “El Guerrero”, la batalla es interna, la competencia es consigo y su propósito, y el triunfo es una elección. Agradecer, respirar, meditar y visualizar … Amar todo por encima de todo!!! #LosQuieroMucho #Bendiciones #SomosEquipo A photo posted by Maickel Melamed (@maickelmelamed) on

He’s become an inspirational figure in his native Venezuela …

He won’t stop until he’s done.

It took him 16 hours to finish the Chicago marathon, but that didn’t stop Melamed.

Inspired yet?

Melamed told the Daily Mail: “If you dream it, make it happen. Your life is the most beautiful thing that can happen to you. So, make the best of it.”

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This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

Things That Matter

This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

Photo via Facebook/Miguel de la Rosa

Once in a while, a story comes along that makes you realize that the phrase “you can do anything you put your mind to”, isn’t just an old cliche. One California Latino man proved that the phrase has some truth behind it.

62-year-old Joseph Valadez just graduated with honors from Cal State Long Beach after spending the half of his adult life behind bars.

Valadez’s story went viral when one of his fellow students tweeted about the California Latino man’s incredible story. “This man accomplished something incredible AND took the coldest pic of 2021,” said that caption.

The post is a screenshot of a Facebook post Valadez wrote, accompanied by some stunning graduation photos of the 62-year-old.

“I finished my last two semester at Long Beach on the ‘President’s Honor List’ for making straight As,” wrote Valadez on the CSULB alumni Facebook group. “Was also on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.67. Not bad for someone who spent half his adult life in prison.”

“There’s a misconception about guys like me that I want to break,” he added. “If I can do it, anyone can.”

Since the picture went viral, Valadez opened up about the journey that took him from rock bottom to where he is now.

Like many people in the prison system, addiction fueled Valadez’s life of crime. In an interview with Long Beach Post, he revealed that he began using heroine when he first joined the army at the age of 18.

“All the crimes I did were related to trying to get drugs, selling drugs,” the California Latino man told the Long Beach Post. He would spend 38 years of his life battling addiction.

After that, his life spiraled into a cycle of addiction, homelessness, violence, and crime. In total, Valadez has been to prison 40 times. He has spent more than 30 years behind bars.

Valadez finally decided to change his life in his 50s, when he realized that if he kept living this way, he would die soon.

In 2013, Valadez checked into an adult rehab facility. He stayed there for a year while he got clean. Soon after, he enrolled in Orange Coast Community College before ultimately transferring to Cal State Long Beach. In total, it took six years of challenging coursework for him to graduate. But from the look of pride in Valadez’s face, it was worth it.

Throughout his journey in the educational system, however, Valadez has discovered all the ways that the system failed him. Despite getting good grades in high school, teachers didn’t suggest college as an option for him. Instead, they suggested he pursue landscaping or construction. Similarly, when Valadez bounced in and out of jail due to his addiction, no one ever suggested rehab as a way for him to break the cycle.

Now, Valadez wants to take the lessons he learned and give back to his community.

At CSULB, Valadez excelled in sociology, and was interested in exploring how the criminal justice system is set up to target people of color. “I know a little bit about that subject because I lived it,” he said. “I wanted to understand the ‘why?’.” As of now, he is waiting to see if he gets accepted into CSULB’s Social Work masters program.

Valadez wants to use his new degree to help young kids who are at-risk of being failed by the system, like he was. “I’m going to inspire somebody, I’m going to motivate somebody, I’m going to give somebody hope,” he said. “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

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We Asked What Being Latino Meant To You And Your Responses Were Inspirational AF

Culture

We Asked What Being Latino Meant To You And Your Responses Were Inspirational AF

What does being Latine mean to you? That’s the question that we asked our Instagram community and their responses really got us thinking.

There is so much to love about being Latino – from our community and our familia, to our cultura and our resilience, our drive to be better and work harder to reach not just our dreams, but the dreams of our pápis and our abuelos too. There is no single definition of what being Latino/Latina/Latine means, and, as expected, where we fall on the Latinidad spectrum varies depending on each one of us. That being said, there is no wrong way to be a Latino or to feel Latinidad, and we hope that these answers give you the courage to accept it, embrace it, and carry it proudly.

But first, the response that left our jaw on the floor:

“I consider myself Indigenous Latinx. I have a trilingual experience growing up with listening and speaking a mixture of Mixtec, Spanish and English #indigenouslatinx” – @jeanettejaguar.

Wow Jeanette! That is so beautiful, thank you for sharing with us. If you ever want to talk to us about your Mixtec cultura and your upbringing let us know, we’re all ears!

Being Latine means embracing the skin you’re in…

“Being a Latino means I’m beautifully brown.” – @pepelokz

“Means brown is beautiful! Was taught at a young age the girls who had brown skin, brown eyes, and brown hair like me were the prettiest. 💕” – @_cynnreneerose

…and not letting anyone tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel.

“It means being unapologetically brown and proud and not letting other oppress our culture and beliefs 👏🏽” – @_ottootto_

“always persevering and continuously learn about ones culture or cultures as to not repeat the same mistakes of the past! I’m a proud Mutt of Mexican born parents! Never have I denied my culture and being what I am I would gladly die fighting then on my knees ✊🏼🇲🇽” – @immanuel_rosa

Some people have trouble feeling accepted

“Ni de aquí, ni de allá” – @marcela.nog19

“Being a Latina is being unsure if it’s okay to claim being Latina. It means fear of being rejected by both cultures that make up my being. It means to laugh at myself as being white wash so that i can pretend it doesn’t hurt when I hear from family and friends around me. It means to constantly be looking for my roots because neither groups want to claim me.” – @miszjean

First of all, whoever made you feel like you weren’t enough is projecting their own beliefs onto you! You said it yourself, both cultures make up your being. You are not either/or, you are BOTH, and that’s something that’s within you, regardless of what other people have to say. Do whatever makes you feel more secure in your identity; if it’s not knowing enough about your cultura that you are self conscious of, all the knowledge in the world is just a Google search away. There’s always going to be people telling you what to do and how you should feel, but that’s their problem, you are supported and loved and you are accepted just the way you are, and if you don’t think so, keep reading to check out Ana Martinez’s answer a little further below.

“Well I feel like I am not living up the standards of being resilient. I am struggling to get my career or studies done, I just feel overwhelmed about the pressures of being an immigrant, disabled, and with chronic issues. I don’t know how my grandma did it coming from a indentured farming family to a businesswoman in her prime time in Mexico- considering that she was not a white woman or a criollo or from a rich family. I am very tired of fighting. I am exhausted. I don’t think I represent anything of Latinx/Latina/Latine, but my grandma DOES represent that. 🇲🇽🌻” – @pandapanda_26

It’s not fair for us to compare our obstacles and challenges to those of anyone else, especially our parents’ and abuelos’. Granted, sometimes it’s hard not to, especially when we consider the lives they led and the sacrifices they were forced to make along the way, but we’re never going to feel like what we do is enough if we’re always comparing ourselves to them. It’s hard not to feel intimidated when things seem to go wrong or when things get tough but mija, you’re doing amazing! Growth is hard and uncomfortable and sometimes we fall but the most important thing is that we pick ourselves up and keep going. That’s exactly what we saw when we read your response: someone who has overcome many challenges and is tired af but is still here, growing and learning and echandole ganas. Think about a time when you overcame something you thought you wouldn’t. See? You can do anything as long as you actually try, your abuelita’s blood is in you, and you cannot fail. *Sending you a big virtual hug*

There is so much of Latinidad to be proud of.

“Being super proud!” – @sarahi_rueda

“Being Latina means being proud of your culture, and being a princess and a warrior.” – @j98oo

“What being Latina means to me: you have the upmost knowledge and first hand experience of struggles( it be family, self, work) getting by just to stay afloat(financially, emotionally, physically) but most importantly the exposure and lessons embedded in us by our adult leaders(parents/ guardians/grandparents) in our life. But on the other side of that coins what makes us Latinas unique is beside all of the above we still are shown how to hard workers, humble, and resilient.” – @tati_rivas90

“It means I love to dance. It means family will always be the most important thing in the world to me. It means I might sound like a gringa to some pero the spanish comes out real quick when im angry, smitten by a cute dog, or in other situations I better not say. It means I belong to a group of people they act like they can’t see. It means I have to explain myself to my white boyfriend over and over again. It means every time I go back home to miami a part of me that’s always empty gets filled. It means vallenatos, mi abuelita, My finca in colombia, the navidades that can never be the same again ❤️” – @saraamayaaa

At the end of the day, remember that where we are born does not determine who we are.

“It means that just because we were born in the 🇺🇸.. being children of a Mexican immigrants… we are Latinos” – @anamartinez67

We hope that you are feeling just as inspired by these responses as we are.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com