Student Spotlight: Kiara Licea

She is naturally outgoing and spunky, and VHS junior Kiara Licea’s wide smile and bright eyes would never give away the fact that she had a difficult life back in the Bronx, where she was born and raised and where she lived until this year when she moved to Verona and entered VHS.

She transferred to Verona to escape family issues at home. She struggled with being the youngest of 11 siblings, being adopted, and having a brother suffering from a bad addiction.

At the end of her sophomore year, she knew that if she wanted to be accepted to colleges, she would have to focus more on herself than the difficulties that she faced at home.

One of her six  sisters recently purchased a house in a Verona neighborhood, and Kiara thought it would be smart to move here and concentrate on her studies.

She notes without shame how much she hates VHS, and how much she wishes she was back home in the Bronx with all of her friends.

Her outsider status gives her a unique perspective on life at VHS.  She finds it strange how the people in Verona have known each other for years, but avoid each other in the school hallways at all costs. In the Bronx, she adds, people talk to each other.

“Loud and outgoing,” she simply stated when asked what two words would be to describe her. Kiara believes that she developed her personality due to her upbringing in her hometown.

Such a personality may also have derived from being alone most of the time. As a cab driver, her mom was usually not around to help her, and she explains, “I had to worry about my priorities myself.”

For a moment, her upbeat attitude turns sorrowful, as she recounts what her mother did for her, even not being around very often.

“My mom did a lot for me that she didn’t do for her other kids.” She goes further to say that she feels like she failed her mother when she was younger, and she wants to fix the mistakes she made, which was a big influence on her decision to start fresh in Verona.

Kiara sees her challenging past as a segue  to her future, however. She dreams of becoming a child psychologist in order to give kids the attention that her therapists never did.

“My life has been so bad, but I know there must be other kids out there that have it way worse,” she humbly adds when passionately describing her hopeful future.

Kiara ended the interview with a comical retelling of the time she found out, through Facebook, that she was adopted. Her contagious laughter while telling of a such a touchy subject perfectly encapsulated her glass-half-full attitude.