Olga Benacerraf

“The summer of 2017 is one that I will never be able to erase from my memory. I left my hometown of Caracas, Venezuela with a suitcase packed for a three-week EXPLO program at Yale University. Around a week before the program ended, I received a FaceTime call from my parents, something they never did, and when I answered, both of them appeared nervously on the screen. Immediately, I knew something was up. They began the call as calmy as the could, but eventually, they let out the words I never thought I would hear; my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and since there was no treatment in Venezuela, we would be moving to Miami. And, just like that, what I thought was a normal call checking in ended up flipping my life upside down. So, instead of returning home when my program ended, my parents packed my stuff and changed my flight so I would meet them directly in Miami. The idea of not being able to say goodbye to my friends, family, and school in Venezuela tore me to pieces. But those emotions didn’t even compare to what I was simultaneously dealing with while seeing my mom go through treatment. Those few months that followed, in which I was adjusting to the new life I was living, were the hardest times in my life. But because of my mom‘s strength throughout everything, because of the example she set for me, I realized that you truly can manage anything. My mom always made it a constant priority for our house to be stable and for our family to stay together no matter what, values that I will keep close to me and take into my own future. I truly believe that it was my mom’s strength, perseverance, and love for our family that motivated her to become the survivor she is today and that helped us all get through those earth-shattering times.”

– Olga Benacerraf, 12th Grade Student

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