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Senior Spotlight: Wedangelis Feliciano-Berrocales

Leaving Puerto Rico for new opportunities in United States

Don Coble
Posted 5/9/24

FLEMING ISLAND – There was a recession in Puerto Rico 11 years ago, and Wedangelis Feliciano-Berrocales’ parents didn’t have college degrees or jobs. When the pandemic hit, the …

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Senior Spotlight: Wedangelis Feliciano-Berrocales

Leaving Puerto Rico for new opportunities in United States


Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – There was a recession in Puerto Rico 11 years ago, and Wedangelis Feliciano-Berrocales’ parents didn’t have college degrees or jobs. When the pandemic hit, the family escaped to Florida with the meager hopes of finding a better life.

They started with nothing, including a grasp of English and local customs.

“We were just trying to build up our lives,” Wedangelis said. “My parents are a little illiterate. I came from a family that doesn’t know how to read, and nobody has ever been to college. So being accepted to college is a big deal.”

At the same age that most of her friends back in Puerto Rico are having babies, already married or working full-time, Wedangelis will be one of 28 seniors graduating from St. Johns Classical Academy on May 24. From there, she will attend the University of Florida.

When her family moved to the States, her brother was the only one who understood a little English, and that’s because he watched the Discovery Channel in Puerto Rico. She said that was the only show on the island broadcast in English.

She had to learn English on her own while attending elementary school.

“I was thrown into a classroom. I didn’t know anything,” Wedangelis said. “I cried for weeks. But after about three months, I was finally able to start talking a little English.”

The adjustment was too difficult for the family, so they moved to New York, where most Puerto Ricans lived. They moved back to Puerto Rico because it was too cold there, Wedangelis said. Conditions there weren’t improved, so they returned to Florida because it was easier for her father to find work.

Wedangelis said that while her parents didn’t understand what she accomplished or what it took to gain admission into college, they always supported her.

“All they can do is support me,” she said. “They have no idea how the education system works. By the time I was in sixth grade, I was making out my own schedule. I was picking out my own classes for me and my siblings because my parents had no idea how to communicate with the people who could help.”

Wedangelis said she wants to study general psychology. If allowed, she’d like to double-major in the classics.

Wedangelis said none of it would have been possible without St. Johns Classical Academy.

“The school system in Puerto Rico is different to the school system over here,” she said. “Over there, the entire town was basically my family. Over here, America is so big. It can be difficult to find a little community that cares. This school is like Puerto Rico. It’s a little community that cares.”