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Khyarah Gaston-Feliciano ’23

Within each of our students is an inspirational story of perseverance and strength, and we are honored to share them with our Bay Path community. This narrative originally appeared as part of Bay Path's #MyPath series on social media.

“When I moved to Holyoke, I’d never lived outside my home island of Puerto Rico. It was right after Hurricane Maria. I was very scared when I came here. My ESL teacher, Ms. K., really helped me be less afraid. She taught me a lot of things. Not only about speaking English but about life in general. She got me into reading. She got me my first “Harry Potter” book because I’d never read it before. She taught me not to be scared of the world or of showing my culture. I should embrace it. I used to talk to nobody because I have a little bit of an accent, and some people would look at me weird when I started speaking. But she told me if anybody didn’t like it, that was their problem, not mine.

Since I’ve been in college, I’ve begun opening myself up. I’ve seen myself become more confident. I’m more outgoing and comfortable with other people. I like being in groups and talking about everything. I’m co-president of ALANA (African American, Latina, Asian, Native American, Allies). It’s part of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, which is a very diverse office. I just felt at home there and with the club. We want to be a safe space for anybody of any culture, any gender, any sexuality. I want to make everyone feel comfortable. Because if you’re not true to yourself while you’re in college, it’s going to be a waste of time. College is more about the experience than it is about the classes. Being someone you’re not is tiring. You get burnt out. If people don’t like who you are, then they’re not the right people for you to be with. Try to be yourself. Ms. K constantly said to keep going and to not be afraid and one day I’d get where I want to be. I think that was one of the biggest impacts a teacher has had on me. Right now, I’m actually transitioning from a neurobiology major to elementary education. I want to be an ESL teacher. Eventually, I want to go back to Puerto Rico and be a teacher there. I want kids to have the same experiences I had with my teachers. And going back home is all I want to do.” - Khyarah Gaston-Feliciano ’23 #MyPath

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