The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


Conquering Cultural Language Barriers, Cavaliers Rise Above

Achieving the pinnacle of their high school journey, these three seniors share their personal stories
Sabrina Daly
Students pose with the flags that represent three unique stories from their experience up to now.

At the heart of a diverse city like Miami, Fla., Coral Gables Senior High is home to a myriad of different students coming from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Coming from a different country and being met with a new culture and language is bound to be challenging. From living most of their lives outside of the U.S., these three students have worked tirelessly to rise above their hardships and reach for success despite any disadvantages.

Mauricio Quesada

Born to Cuban parents in Cancun, Mexico, senior Mauricio Quesada considers himself to have experienced double the culture in his formative years. Learning about different traditional Cuban foods such as Ropa Vieja, Quesada also spent time growing up in Mexico for 11 years of his life while spending his days playing soccer in the streets with his friends. 

“Growing up, Mexico was all I knew, and I loved it. I knew all my neighbors and had a lot of amazing friendships. I remember the streets of where I lived so vibrantly, in so many ways that is my country and so is Cuba. My parents raised me in both cultures so I felt pretty a part of both. It did hurt me to leave Mexico though, I knew I would miss it, but I was determined to be positive, and I knew good things were waiting for me in America. I had to adjust to a new language and a new culture, but somehow while at Ponce [de Leon Middle School] I made it happen, and I genuinely believe my family and the friendships I made helped me greatly,” senior Quesada said.

As crime rates rose throughout the 2010s, he and his family began to ponder moving to the U.S., in search of better security. Once their decision was final, Quesada’s family flew over legally to Miami, before asking for a permanent residency. Experiencing his first U.S. school with Ponce De Leon Middle School as an incoming sixth grader, Quesada had previously taken English classes in Mexico, aiding his quest in making his second language fluently.

By the time high school was on the horizon, Quesada felt determined to discover new learning rigors. Challenging himself, he decided to enroll in Gables’s International Baccalaureate Program. Choosing to take the highest math and science levels of Calculus B/C and IB Physics Standard Level, Quesada feels he has grown a substantial amount since entering Gables in his freshman year. 

Moreover, Quesada is involved in off-school hours being a part of the Gables Wellness Board and as the boy’s varsity volleyball captain. Not only being able to excel academically, Quesada has been able to go to great lengths in becoming involved.

Marie Weisson

Senior Marie Weisson is a girl who never imagined her life would get to where it is now. Changing environments not once, but twice, is not an easy challenge to surpass. After being born in the U.S. in 2005, she moved to her parent’s home country, Ecuador. Living there for the next 15 years, her whole life there was indulged in the culture and lifestyle that ran in her blood. 

Growing up in a Spanish-speaking country, Weisson managed to learn English, due to her bilingual educational environment as a  nine-years-old. While learning a foreign language is challenging for some, Weisson’s perseverance led her to continue practicing the language in different ways from listening to audio conversations and studying basic vocabulary words.  

Traveling back to the U.S. in 2021, Weisson planned to temporarily visit her family. However, with the widespread of  COVID-19, Weisson was unable to return to Ecuador due to airplane commercials cancelling flights. During her six-month stay, Weisson realized that it could be an amazing opportunity for her to see what the U.S.’s high-standard colleges and career opportunities can offer. When the time came, she made the difficult decision to leave her home country and family behind and purchase a one-way ticket to the U.S. permanently.

“Leaving my country was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. It was a huge challenge that was very difficult and sad for me since I had to leave my family behind in my country. Even though it was a difficult decision to make, I reassured myself that this is what’s best for my future,” senior Weisson said. 

Weisson overcame the task of changing her life completely by exceeding in life more than ever. Now graduating in the Class of 2024 this upcoming May, Weisson dedicates hours to her positions in Interact, Andrea Jaime Medical Leaders and Future Business Leaders of America alongside being also a journalist writer for highlights and in the IB Program. Boldly stepping out of her new country, Weisson is living life to the fullest due to the endless possibilities of English.

Melody Abassi

 Unexpectedly becoming a Cavalier from a global strain of the disease, senior Melody Abassi had no idea that leaving her previous life behind in the Middle East was difficult. Born and raised in Iran, Abassi came to visit her family branch in the U.S. in 2020, not knowing COVID-19 was growing into a pandemic.

As just a 14-year-old, she ended up permanently moving with her whole family due to the increase of the disease, especially in her country. Becoming immersed in a new country with no extensive knowledge, the task of creating new friends and accommodating the two different lifestyles became a point of identity confusion. For Abassi however, it was not too difficult, but it did have challenges of its own.

“Since I had been to this country before, it wasn’t so much the moving that was tough. It was the part of having to start a new life. It was so hard for me, especially in my freshman year online. It was very different from my school back in Iran, so I wasn’t really used to it,” senior Abassi said.

In Tehran, Iran, Abassi grew up surrounded by her culture, having attended Mavdah International School with parents placing a large emphasis on learning English. Although Abassi had previously visited the U.S. before the pandemic, she never thought she would be starring in a new chapter of her life, starting in her final year of middle school.

“My perspective changed in so many ways since I moved here. From going to an all-girls school to switching to a public all gender school was already very different from what I was used to. Also, I started to really understand the struggles of being a foreigner in a different country. Everyone I knew was always telling me how lucky I was to be coming to this country but it’s not as easy as it seems,” senior Abassi said.

Three years later, Abassi is now in Interact and prides herself on working very hard to help her friends from providing emotional support or helping with scholarship applications. Planning to continue studying in the U.S., Abassi applied to Florida International University and the University of Miami, in hopes of getting into the pre-medical program and hopefully pursuing a career in the medical field. 

Crossing a foreign barrier comes with a life-changing decision, yet these three students took a leap of faith and have conquered that bridge in their lives. Happening across the U.S. every day from immigrants and new naturalized citizens, all combine the effort to pursue the “American Dream”, in hopes of thriving and following the countless similar stories of triumphing. 

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About the Contributors
Lorena Acevedo
Lorena Acevedo, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Entering her final year at Coral Gables Senior High, senior Lorena Acevedo hopes to make this her most notable year yet. As returning member of Cavsconnect, she aims to continue doing what she loves most, write. She considers her past three years with the publication one of the things that has made her high school experience so memorable, and will always feel lucky to be a part of this team. When she is not chasing an interview or busy  typing away, Lorena maintains her involvement at Gables as a Peer Health Educator for the Health Information Project. This year, in between spending time out with friends and binging any early 2000's drama, Lorena will conquer her toughest feat. Becoming a Miami driver. Aside from this, she lives for all things beauty as she is often found giving her friends at home lash-lifts and spending too much time in the Sephora checkout line. With graduation on the horizon, Lorena is eager to explore what the future holds as she steps into adulthood.
Sabrina Daly
Sabrina Daly, CavsConnect Staff Writer

Meet Sabrina Daly, a determined freshman in the Academy of Finance enthusiastically going into her first year of Cavsconnect. Sabrina is a warm-hearted Cavalier who not only has passions outside of school, but academically as well. Her love for medicine is undeniable as she has hopes of joining Andrea Jaime Medical Leaders as well as taking an anatomy class. As she watches “Grey’s Anatomy”, Sabrina finds her warmth in art such as dancing and sketching, hoping to be part of “The Hurricanes” in the future. For now, Sabrina is ecstatic to kick off her high school years and start this new chapter in her life.

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