By RAY QUIROGA
South Padre Parade
Still, the very young, the very old and everyone in between gave it little thought when it came to carrying their surf or body boards into the Island waters.
“Those waves are crashing pretty violently, huh?” This wide-eyed reporter said to the young lady and her mother next to me as we stood staring into the Gulf. “Are you a good swimmer,” I continued to ask? “Yeah,” the young lady said as she nodded. “I have a license to swim,” she added. “What?” I replied.
At first, I thought she was joshing. “A license to swim?” I wondered to myself. I never heard of such a thing. The entire concept struck me as peculiar yet interesting. “Are you serious,” I asked as I looked toward her mother for affirmation.
It turns out that Mireya Isabel Almaraz, the young lady being referred to, took it upon herself to earn a “license” to swim while visiting her relatives in Houston a few summers ago. She went on to explain that certain swimming pools in that area required, a “license” to swim in order to be admitted entrance. In order to receive a license, the swimmer was required to attend classes and be evaluated.
This anecdote is typical of Mireya. Where many people her age or younger would give up before ever trying, this Port Isabel High School 10th grader has a tendency to go the extra mile; so it’s fitting that on this Labor Day weekend, we feature this young lady who knows all about hard work, and more importantly, who strongly believes that all that hard work will pay off one day in the form of realizing some lofty dreams.
While her mother described her as shy, Mireya comes off as spirited, witty, well-spoken and composed as she explains that her passions come in the form of sports and dancing, particularly volleyball, cross country, track and participating on her school’s drill team. She even learned Arabic to better communicate with her cousin and uncle who speak Arabic. But her ultimate goal is to be an entertainer, something she’s been working towards at various camps and workshops in recent years. “It (entertaining and acting) has always been one of my interests, but I never went for it because I thought this was a small town (and the opportunities to be discovered were few), but one day I was approached to try it and it’s been a pretty nice experience, so far,” she said. “But I don’t really want to have that as my main goal because I know I want to go to college, but I think that I could act and model while attending college in order to gain the experience, and hopefully earn some money for school.”
It’s also worth noting that Mireya is among the top students in her class who spends what little spare time she has as a hospital volunteer. She is the daughter of Sergio and Sandra Almaraz also of Port Isabel.