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Ally Brooke Hernandez Hispanic Heritage Month Essay

The Most Unforgettable Moment of My Life Connected Me to My Mexican Roots

Ally Brooke Hernandez is a singer and songwriter and member of pop group Fifth Harmony.

As the daughter of two Mexican-American parents, my biggest influence and favorite entertainer of all time is Selena Quintanilla. Being from San Antonio, TX, where Selena had some of her most iconic moments — like filming the music video for "No Me Queda Más" and performing at the River Walk — I've always felt a connection to her. She had such an incredible, radiant spirit.

What I admire the most about Selena is how much she loved her family, her culture, and her fans. She was such an outstanding performer, her voice was unlike any other, and she made people connect to her music. Even to this day, if you play one of her songs, everyone in the room starts singing, dancing, or even crying because they remember her beautiful spirit. Just like her, I try to evoke emotions when I perform.

In 2016, I went to Mexico for the first time. I'd always dreamed of visiting the country where my grandparents were born and my heritage comes from. As soon as I found out Fifth Harmony was performing there, I told my parents, "We're going to Mexico! I can't believe it!" I felt like I was really going to get in touch with my roots and see the place where my grandma grew up.

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I wanted to do something special at the concert, so I decided to perform a cover of Selena's "Como La Flor." The crowd went crazy. I was very emotional. Everyone was singing along, and I felt like I was really honoring Selena. I felt the passion and love from the audience. It was unforgettable and one of the highlights of my life and career.

It was also a full-circle moment for me. As I was singing, I had flashbacks of watching videos of a Selena concert in Mexico and also thought of my grandma, who is no longer with us. Before I went to Mexico, my dad said to me, "Grandma would be so proud you, and she would have been there with you, no matter what. This is the concert she wouldn't have missed. She'd be so proud." That's all I could think of on that stage: my family.

Dreams do come true. I want Latinas everywhere to know that they should dream big! Love hard and always follow your passion. That is what drives us. You can do anything no matter where you're from. I am immensely grateful to be living our my dreams. Be fearless, even in the scariest moments. Go out there and be your best. Keep on shining.

As told to Alessandra Foresto

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