Posted on: October 12, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Yunuen Perez, JRN 111 Student

Moraine Valley student Nicole Dela Rosa is a one-of-a-kind character with tons of humor and heart. Writer, artist, and karaoke fanatic, she also loves talking about her passion for critters such as the Malabar giant squirrel and the Nicobar pigeon. 

Her quirky personality is what sets Dela Rosa apart and helped her essay “Lost Sailor” to be chosen as the second-place winner at the national level in the Student Literary Competition hosted by the League for Innovation in the Community College.

“When I saw the email I was filled with excitement. I can’t deny how validating it felt to see my work enjoyed by other people.” said Dela Rosa. “Everything felt connected in a way, and it was warm feelings all around being able to connect to people who like literature as much as I do.”

The deadline to enter this year’s literary contest is Thursday, Oct. 15. Read more here.

Dela Rosa received a check for $200 and a certificate, and her essay will be printed in the League’s literary anthology. Another Moraine student, John Guinta, also placed in the competition, taking second in the poetry category for his poem, “Mojave Girl.”

“Students from colleges all over North America participated in the contest, so it’s quite an honor,” said Lisa Couch, the communications faculty member who coordinates the Moraine writing contest.

Dela Rosa’s essay “Lost Sailor” is an adorable creative nonfiction story of having to convince her parents for a pet, to finally getting her cat, Fluffy, and strengthening their bond. It is told from the perspective of a 9-year-old girl with only her imagination for company. Dela Rosa grew up as the only girl in a Filipino home. Her only brother is much older.

Dela Rosa feels in her a purpose to motivate others and herself. Her winning essay is relatable and inspiring, reminding us to never give up on our deepest wishes.

Winning this award reminded Dela Rosa to be confident and proud of what she can create. Feeling insecure and nervous about her talent didn’t stop her from entering the contest – instead, it allowed her to take on a challenge that only made her stronger. She decided to “just try,” which came with a pleasant surprise. She wishes more of her classmates would have done the same because just that tiny step forward led to a million unknowns.

In addition to being an award-winning writer, Nicole Dela Rosa is an artist. She is posting a drawing a day on her Instagram account, @nickhidessketches.

Her entry “Lost Sailor” was a writing assignment for Bill Hogan’s COM 101 class. Dela Rosa used this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and submit her assignment to the competition.

Lisa Kelsay, assistant dean for liberal arts, encourages students to enter the literary contest: “You never know what’s going to happen,” she says. “Follow your dreams, follow your passion if you really like doing something. If you don’t know what you like, try something. Explore your opportunities and just try it.”

In addition to her national award for her essay, Dela Rosa also accomplished second place at the conference level in the Skyway Writers Competition and Festival in the poetry category, for her poem “Caged.” Skyway is Moraine Valley’s conference, made up of eight area community colleges. 

“I am so excited for Nicole, especially since I had the pleasure of getting to know her when we attended the Skyway Writers Competition and Festival last fall,” Couch said. “What an accomplishment to take home an award for poetry there and in a different category for League. She is one talented individual!” 

Winning for Dela Rosa seems to be consistent. She attended Reavis High School and her junior year is when her gift in writing and speech was acknowledged. She joined the speech team and attended state for radio and won third place in journalism broadcasting in her first year aboard. Her senior year, Dela Rosa won fifth in state for radio, revisited state in informative speaking, and received the Reavis Top Speaker award. 

“Speech taught me not only to speak but to listen,” Dela Rosa said. 

Dela Rosa is now a member of the Moraine Valley speech team, led by professor John Nash. 

Being a part of the team gave Dela Rosa a sense of strength when speaking for a crowd. Self-monitoring her body became second nature to her thanks to the continued practice. She cares a lot about getting her message across, so she does her absolute best to not only perform but to talk to her audience as individuals. Dela Rosa loves the idea of how much speech has shaped her into a less awkward speaker, enhancing her skills and allowing her social life to fully blossom. 

“Forensics helped me provide applicable skills to my normal day-to-day conversations,  teamwork, and expressions,” she said. “I improved in exiting my comfort zone, listening to other people, and improving upon my mistakes.”

Dela Rosa is always seeking to learn, which explains her side hobby of managing her Instagram account, @nickhidessketches, in her free time where she posts one drawing every day. Each post gives her more inspiration to continue her passion for art and practice for a potential art career. 

“I would describe my art as whimsical. My desire to create art stems from both my curiosity and my wish to make something worthwhile,” Dela Rosa said. “I enjoy the reactions to the stories that accompany my art, and I enjoy the liberating feeling. I think art is my way of contributing to the world.”

Nicole Dela Rosa’s bright future brings together passion and talent. She plans to combine her speech skills to better communicate with future clients in the art field. She is also going to continue to write her extraordinary poems and stories.

She and her purring sibling are doing just fine.  In the near future, when this pandemic has come to an end, you can catch Dela Rosa in a nearby karaoke bar, singing songs from musicals and munching on some delicious vegan dishes. 


Lost Sailor

By Nicole Dela Rosa

Like any responsible parent, my cat’s mother abandoned him on a ship. My cat, the biggest of the group, would mewl at anyone who tried to steal away those remaining in his family. To no avail. The little furball with his sailor-blue eyes and his classy gray coat were no match for the protruding hands of a passerby. Being a child, I would daydream of all his adventures.

“Unhand me, filthy pirates! And leave my gentle sisters alone!” he cried.

“Aw. Look at how he flails, Vivienne!”

“I will tear you apart like a butcher with meat from the slaughterhouse.”

“I will give you the most loving home. Vivienne, let’s call him Beans!”

Beans. To his dismay, they called him “Beans.” A rather condescending title. If anything, they should have named him “Captain” as respect for his past life and zeal. No mother, a sense of bravery, and a stunning coat. How on earth did these two eggheads come up with Beans? Wasn’t placing him in a prison already hard enough? Whatever. Coming up with clever escape plans takes time, and he needed a nap.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst of my soon-to-be furry companion, I hopped and bounced around my home. That day was THE DAY. THE DAY to request my first dog. THE DAY I established my three main points of credibility: I did well in school, I’m a certified watcher of Animal Planet, and I wanted one with all my heart. So I asked my mother as gently as I could.

“Mom, give me a dog! Please! Pretty please! Pretty please with an espresso, a ticket to Disneyland, a life’s worth of hugs, and a cherry on top! Please!”

“Honey, maybe when you are older.”

A tough nut to crack, I noticed. Perhaps if I turned it down a notch.

 “Mom! I want a dog!”

 “Nicole. Do your math homework.”

“I want a dog.”

“Who’s your favorite teacher at school?”

“Dog.”

“How much homework do you have?”

“Dog.”

“What is twelve multiplied by twelve?”

“Dogs.”

“Sweetie, I love you.”

 “I love you too. But dogs!”

At that moment, my mother knew there was no stopping me. The dog-thirsting demon within me had already possessed my body. The only way to get her daughter back was to succumb to its wishes. She sat down and prayed.

“God help me,” she whispered to the heavens above. After all, God spelled backwards is dog. No coincidence. He made dogs in his honor, not man. The apostles got it all wrong. She knew deep down that a generous angel would bestow upon her God’s gift. She smiled to herself and laughed at her profound wisdom. Mom is a lunatic, I concluded.

My dog arrived. Profoundly curious, tiny, and meowing. Yeah, definitely not a dog, but I loved him already. I honestly would have settled for a hamster but no way was I telling my mom that. The moment that I looked into his intelligent eyes, I knew we were destined for each other. I loved him and he loved me. By that point, we were practically siblings.

Immediately, he ran away into the kitchen and stared at his reflection on the fridge.

“Sister, it is I! Run with me and we can escape together,” he demanded in my imagination.

“Sister, it is I! Run with me and we can escape together,” his supposed sister echoed back with sheer panic.

“This is no time for games, dear sister! We’re in big trouble here-” Vivienne picked up the cat adoringly.

“He’s the biggest of the group, but he knows how to hide just about anywhere. Do be careful, love.”

I reached out to hold my companion, and he flailed in my arms. I cradled him like a mother with a baby. Wonderful. My mother does not have to worry about giving our new family member baths or having to take him out on walks. She shakes Vivienne’s hand and mentally thanks God for the new dog, er… cat. God works in mysterious ways, as they say.

As if on cue, my mother snatches my cat away from me.

“This darling needs to get checked. Dress up. We’re heading to the vet. Think of a name while you are at it.”

I nod, launching into a tornado of new clothes. After all, this was a special occasion in my eyes. Quality clothes for a quality cat. My mother had informed me about his stories overseas, and I knew that I was not going to disgrace his presence like that. No, I would accompany his journey to the vet with the nobility of a princess. Behind that tough exterior must have been a poor lad missing his family.

As I entered my mother’s van, I turned over to see what my cat was thinking. He faced away from me and hid his face beneath his paws. Not a single meow came out of him. Not even a whine. Not even a cry for his lost family. Not even a compliment on my carefully chosen clothes. I slumped in my seat and gazed out the window. Just grass and dull suburban houses. Boring. The sea was a long way from here.

When we arrived at the vet, she greeted us with a smile. She gently handled the small animal. I could not tell if she had the hands of a goddess or if the cat was too exhausted to even lift a paw. My mother turned to me.

“Oh right! A name,” I gasped, half-forgetting that she had entrusted me with a task as important as this.

“What about B-” I paused. The cat glared daggers into my soul. No Beans.

Great. A couple hours with a cat and I was already failing in my role as caretaker. I shifted my eyes around the room for help: Mother’s coat, the vet’s hair, and the most generic name known to all cats. Of course!

“Fluffy!” I answered, sweating.

 “That’s perfect! The cat of my niece is also named Fluffy. Fluffy, it is!” the vet squealed.

Thanks, I hate it, Fluffy seemed to say with his eyes. Well, so much for first impressions, I guess. No other name came to mind, and I felt rather disappointed in myself for not having the guts to change it. Fluffy was a domestic shorthair with literally no hint of fluff. How could I mess up that badly? I sighed. My vet twirled around with the enthusiasm of a drunk ballerina. At least she’s happy.

By the time we were home, my mother decided to hit the hay. No way would she stay awake for someone with as stupid a name as Fluffy. Nor would she nag me to do my homework for the umpteenth time. That left alone time for Fluffy and me. Unfortunately, he ran under the couch, behind the fridge, and onto the top shelf of the closet: anywhere away from me.

“Leave me alone,” he hissed with his back turned.

 “That’s boring,” I retorted.

The chase began. I followed him everywhere, hoping that he’d give up after a long while. To my surprise, he never tried to bite or scratch. Instead, he mastered the art of stealth, precision, and fitting into small, child-proof spaces. It would have made my life so much easier if he had been claustrophobic, but no matter. I was a cat whisperer. At least, I liked to believe myself one. I peered under the couch.

“Please come out with lots of cat treats on top when I actually have some?”

“No.”

“Please with love and hugs?”

“Definitely not.”

“Twelve multiplied by twelve equals 144?”

“No.”

So I waited for him to come out. He waited for me to leave, but I was one step ahead of him. I hopped onto the couch and waited for him to come out once he believed the coast was clear. Gotcha!

I petted his head and stroked his back. Rather than running away, he collapsed onto the floor with a yawn. His outstretched paws reached for a deck he once called home. The swish and sway motion of my hand reminded him of the waves at sea. He reminisced the haunting melodies of sirens and white feathers of the seagulls that once flew above. His tail finally stilled as he drifted off into a quiet slumber. I knew invading his personal space would make him like me!

“I miss my momma,” he almost whispered.

I knew the reality of his situation. On the surface, his aloof nature hid something away from me. Cursed with a bark worse than his bite, people must have ignored him all along. Wainever mind. He is way too cute to ignore. Blue eyes plus gray fur is the best combination, and I will stand my ground on that. Still, deep down resided a sailor with the heart of a captain. He protected his sisters and now he is never going to see them again. His own mother decided it was better to live her own life than nurture the children she was forced to have. Perhaps she wanted to have her own adventures too. Maybe one day, after completing her journey, she will once again reunite with her children.

“Your mother sucks,” I told him.

His ear twitched and he gave me a look of minor annoyance. Rude.

Okay, first of all, Captain Fluffy Beans. Mothers do not abandon their children. Cowards abandon their children. Second of all, I would make a much better momma. At least, that’s what I would have said if he hadn’t been purring on my lap.

My eyes welled up in happiness. I’m a momma.