When this student is elected prom queen, her first reaction is to call her mother. When her mom dressed her for prom, this student saw the pride in her eyes and realized how much she had sacrificed for her family. She explains that her family was very wealthy in their native Nicaragua, but that when communism spread, her father was seen as an enemy of the government and her brothers were likely to be enrolled in the army and brainwashed.
This student realizes that her achievements cannot be understood in isolation, for the person she has become is in large part the result of her family upbringing. Instead of self-absorbedly basking in her own pride, she expresses her gratitude for the sacrifices that other people have made in order to protect her happiness.
The family decided to leave for the United States, leaving everything behind to start a new life. Her pregnant mother had to leave first, on her own, so as not to attract suspicion, and one year later her husband and children joined her in the United States. Although this student’s parents have had to adjust to a new culture and give up on material riches, she feels that they are now a united family, stronger than before. On prom night, she realizes that her prom queen crown should go to her mother, who sacrificed her life for her and has supported all of her accomplishments.
In the same way that difficult stories and emotional moments have turned the Freedom Writers into a more united group, this student’s family turned a life-threatening situation into an opportunity to unite and overcome external obstacles. This student considers such a bond infinitely greater than material goods—greater, even, than the possibility of seeing her success as something of her own making, detached from her environment.