Natalie Lagunas is one of those rare people that exudes confidence and kindness all wrapped up into one. She's the hardest working teenager I've had the privilege of knowing. She graduated high school wearing a golden robe indicating she had never received anything less than an A grade. How does a teenager become so focused on As while also devoting part of her life to social involvement and countless athletic accomplishments? Well it's simple... her parents played a significant role (actually a few). As a 1st generation college student now thriving in one of this country's top universities, HerMamas.com asked Natalie to share a bit of her insight when it comes to working hard and the role parents play in motivating their teenagers towards excellence in higher education.
Take it away Nat...
I have been asked to write about my hard work and the role my parents played in my success. Unfortunately, this question can never be answered in a small blog post because my parents mean everything to me, but I’ve looked closely at my life and decided on a few essential roles they have played in my success as a scholar and DI (division 1) athlete. I hope you enjoy!
Role #1: Unending support in both school and soccer. This is definitely the number one role they played in my life because without this I would never be who I am today. First, my mother has always been my number one advocate of education! Being an immigrant herself and struggling through the school system, my mother quickly realized the value of education in America and made sure I was aware of it too. Therefore, I always knew I wanted to go to college and my mother always said, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve something!” So, since a young age I knew grades were important and my mother constantly reminded me to do my best in school because it was going to by my opportunity for success in the future. This prompted heavy involvement in school and school activities, such as student government, all in preparation for my acceptance into college one day. On the other hand, my dad was my number one coach and supporter in soccer. I joined for fun and ended up loving it and having a natural talent. Constant practice and dedication to the sport led to my recruitment for tournament teams, club teams, state teams, regional teams, national teams, and then college! Every step of this journey my father and I drove countless hours to practice and games, and WHEREVER I wanted to play my father was excited to take me, regardless of his lack of sleep due to the graveyard shift he’s worked. Our enthusiasm and passion for the game put me in the right place at the right time, or as I like to look at it, when my preparation met opportunity. His time and financial commitment definitely added up, but ultimately led to my full-ride athletic scholarship. Overall, it was a very rewarding experience for me because it taught me the value of hard work and dedication in BOTH school and soccer. Which is why I emphasize that their support in both aspects of my life were essential. Without my mother’s support in school and school activities I would have never even been considered for my university, similarly my father’s support in soccer led to my athletic scholarship to one of the best athletic conferences in the country.
Role #2: Teaching me to always strive for the best for myself. I believe this is a lesson that can/should be taught to everyone because it has affected me entirely. Whether it was an A in school or making the state soccer team my parents helped me to believe that I could achieve any goal. If I did not do very well in a class they immediately would say, “We know you can do better!” This worked for me because I am naturally competitive and if my parents believed I could do better then I believed I could do better too. My parents helped me to believe I was worth so much, that it inspired me to strive for the best academically and athletically and I now naturally expect it of myself. It has also given me the confidence to never feel inferior to any other person I encounter, whether on the soccer field or in the classroom.
Role #3: My parents did everything possible to make me happy! My parents have worked unbelievably hard to make sure that I was happy with the sport I was playing and my events at school. They have always wanted to give me what they did not have as children and I am truly blessed. As long as I was smiling they were happy and I could not be luckier to have such dedicated parents! At the end of the day I know that my parents love me unconditionally and it is now my driving force when making decisions for my future and myself. Thanks mom & dad, I love you!