Unforeseen Adventures

July 11, 2023

Top, left: students sitting down on a conference table; bottom, left: student standing next to eagle with USA sign; right: student behind a podium

Written by: Maliarys Pérez Navarro, Caminos al Futuro 2023

I never anticipated the unique and unforgettable experiences that laid ahead of me in Caminos al Futuro. Today was no exception. I am a young Puerto Rican whose prior visits to the United States are limited to a trip to Las Vegas ten years ago. Before arriving in Washington, D.C., I looked forward to seeing the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Botanical Gardens, and other museums. However, I did not imagine that I would have the opportunity to visit one of the largest government buildings in the United States, the Pentagon.

When I entered the Pentagon facilities, I saw soldiers from all branches of the military. It was interesting to see the variety of soldiers and civilians that work there. While we waited for our tour guides, my fellow Caminos Scholars and I took photos on a podium, pretending to be the President of the United States. We also took photos with a golden eagle statue, trying to imitate its powerful claws and very expressive gestures.

Our first guide showed us models of airplanes that are used in the military and paintings of important people in the armed forces. Our second guide took us to a reflection room where soldiers who died in service are commemorated, as well as a site dedicated to civilians who worked in the Pentagon. After the tour wrapped up, we had the privilege of meeting Gilbert Cisneros, who is the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense and co-founder of the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute. Mr. Cisneros shared about his work in the Pentagon, about a military scholarship, and about the various academies that provide educational opportunities for youth. My respect and gratitude always to Mr. Cisneros.

I have no words to express how grateful I am for all that Caminos al Futuro has done for us. Having the opportunity to visit the Pentagon and meet Mr. Cisneros was a great privilege. Being in Washington, D.C. has given me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, and to meet extraordinary and fun people with whom to share and laugh every morning and every night. I am happy to say that Caminos al Futuro is my new family. 

Maliarys Pérez Navarro is a Caminos al Futuro 2023 scholar. Maliarys’ views are her own and not necessarily reflective of the Cisneros Institute.