Don’t let the blond hair and green eyes fool you, Gabriel is Puerto Rican. Growing up between his mother’s home in Indianapolis, Indiana and his fathers family in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Gabriel learned the value in embracing a complex identity. In Indiana, he was we an oddball when he wanted to play reggaetón at high school parties. In Puerto Rico he was a gringo.
This dual perspective opened Gabriel’s mind to the world, where he found everyone—regardless of race, class, gender, ethnicity, identity—questioning who we are and how we connect to the world around us. Through his desire to connect with others and build community around difference, Gabriel joined a small team of educators with a passion to reimagine education. Gabriel works with a co-created and collaborative program called the QUESTion Project, that supports high schools as they create intentional, academic spaces for students to explore some of life’s biggest questions: who am I? what is life all about? and how do I find and create purpose in it?
Conversations with college friends about what we could do to help Puerto Rico gave birth to Energise Puerto Rico. Gabriel saw potential in this opportunity as a way to remind his fellow mainlanders that we must support our fellow citizens on the commonwealth. He has always loved both his mainland and island homes, but has struggled to find cohesion and truce between the two. This struggle is by no means unique to Gabriel, as the island has always held a challenging relationship with its sovereignty. He wants to help change that.