Hermayoni Gembe: Power in Youth


Delaney Green, Staff Writer

Hermayoni Gembe is a 9th grade student at McCracken County High School. She is also known to all she meets as quite an intriguing character. She never seems to meet a stranger. One thing most people who have spoken to Hermayoni will have heard something about is her love for Mexico. She loves to share stories about her culture and experiences with those around her. It is a great part of her identity that has shaped her as a person.

“When I went to Mexico, that’s when I learned to value happiness.” she says.

2022 – in Cherán Michoacán

Having only visited once, Hermayoni still holds many memories and lessons from her time staying with relatives in Mexico. Her family is from a very small town named Cherán Michoacán. This is where her parents grew up and eventually moved away from, but much of her family still lives there. She attended school there for a couple months, and she became more connected with her family values and norms. The area of which she stayed is small, and considered by some to be poor, but Hermayoni says it was very welcoming and very enjoyable nonetheless. People had each other, they had parties and tightly knit families. Of course money is important to her, but more than anything she cherishes the relationships there. She felt that life there was more about living. Regardless of its differences from her life in America, she prefers the way of living back in Mexico. “People there are more respectful, they’re way nicer.” she stated. She also says she is inspired by her parents’ lives, and that they hearten her to create a successful life for herself. She learned this from her mother, who told her, “Just because you came from this sort of place doesn’t mean you are that person”. Her family always pushes her to become the best version of herself.

Though her parents may have had a rougher upbringing, she doesn’t let that stop her from reaching her own life goals. She wants to do like her father and be the change in her own life.  Hermayoni strives for independence. She has a strong love for money and always encourages people around her to do the same. “Money was my first love. And trust me; you don’t need a man in your life, you need a good income on your own.” Hermayoni has a great passion for self-reliance and anything money related. She says that even though she definitely loves making money, it’s just as important to do something that makes you happy. Happiness itself is success and is far more important than financial success. She has had this strong drive early on in her life that has never seemed to fade. “My dad grew up very poor before he moved to America. That may be why I feel so  strongly about making money. He learned from my mom that he could make his life different from his parents’. I have opportunities here and I know I can make a successful life for myself.”

In speaking more about her life, another thing Hermayoni expressed was her experience around other kids in American education. For a student, like herself, who grew up learning two completely different customs at once, education can hold complications. Learning one thing at home and something completely different at school can be difficult for a kid to balance; but it’s also something more common than people tend to think. A very interesting thing about Gembe is that she grew up learning two languages at once. Spanish at home around her family and English in school. Hermayoni has done an excellent job balancing the two, but that doesnt stop the judgment she has faced over the years. Her fascinating life is one we can all learn something from. “I’m slower at learning and I stutter, which has gotten better over time. Sometimes in English the words don’t come out right and other people don’t understand. In my head things make sense but even missing a couple words people act so confused.” English can be hard enough to master as someone learning it and nothing else. People don’t tend to realize that the kids they are judging may just have a different lifestyle than they do. Overall, she agrees that more children, and adults alike, need to learn tolerance and patience.

When it comes to life after graduating high school, she has a few different ideas in mind. She says if she attended a college, it would likely be some sort of art school. Art is a hobby she has always been exceptionally developed in. She also says she would love to go into the military for a few years and afterwards settle in Mexico. She has had this plan since she was very young. Some may find her explanation for this humorous. “One reason I’d love to be in the military is that you get to park closer to Lowes. I swear! They have specific parking right next to the store for Veterans Parking. You even get a discount at Home Goods. Would that not be awesome?” she states. Wherever she ends up working, she wants to be sure that she gets to choose things for herself. Hermayoni would definitely be described as a go-getter. She knows what she wants, which is a very admirable trait that isn’t so common amongst many other young teens. 

To end with a valuable piece of advice, Hermayoni Gembe states she has one thing she wants others to learn: “In life you’re gonna suffer either way, whether you choose an easy path or a hard path. So what matters most is that you’re going through the hard things that will benefit you in the end. For example, I go to the gym and some people don’t go to the gym. Working out and feeling the soreness could be considered suffering, but refusing to work out and getting stiff is suffering too. What I’m saying is, if you’re going to struggle either way, it’s better to suffer for the things with greater outcomes.”