On Wednesday, January 24, Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez came to Ethical Culture to speak about her inspiring life story. Laurie lives in New Jersey, and her family is from Puerto Rico, like mine. The Olympian was wearing a gray tee-shirt, black pants, and black Nike sneakers. Laurie looked like any teenager who might be in the upper school at Fieldston, but it was neat that she's a world-class gymnast who came to our school! Laurie was very nice. She giggled a lot during her speech, and it made people laugh. She calls herself the "Human Emoji," a nickname her family has given her.
During her speech, Laurie talked about the moment she knew she wanted to be a gymnast. It was when she was 9 years old, watching the Olympic gymnastics competition on TV. As the years went by, she had to train hard while being home-schooled in order to attain her goal of being an Olympian. She mentioned to us that she got injured multiple times throughout her career. She thought that 2014 would be her year to place first in Nationals but, after experiencing many injuries, she started to think differently. In her book, I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, she explains how her family helped during physical therapy and encouraged her to come back stronger than ever. Laurie mentioned that when the Olympic team was announced, all she heard was her last name called out and then everything else went blank. Her dream had come true! She came back so strong that she made it to the Olympics in Rio in 2016!
At the end of her speech, the EC community got to ask her questions. I asked her, "What inspired you to be a gymnast?" Her answer was, "Shawn Johnson." Shawn Johnson is a 2008 American Olympic gold medalist. After the questions we got to ask, we were given the opportunity to take a picture with her. She was also gracious enough to sign our books.
Because of her coming to Ethical Culture, I learned that I can become whatever I put my mind to and that you have to work hard to achieve your dreams. It was amazing to meet Laurie Hernandez!