My name is Berlyn Reis Balelo. I am 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. I have been a cheerleader for over 5 years, I played soccer and run track for my school. I have an older brother named Phoenix who is 22 and a younger sister named Fallon who is 13. I have grown up in all parts of San Diego, from Bonita, to Crest, to Point Loma, and La Mesa. Point Loma has been my favorite so far because that was when I was able to spend the most time with my Avó Jazita and enjoyed watching her sew beautiful dresses for the Festa. Right now I am studying hard to keep up my 3.8 GPA so I can hopefully have options to which college I will attend. I am so proud and honored to be a part of this year’s 111th annual Festa. I will do everything in my power to represent my family and Portuguese community.
As a proud first generation Portuguese descent, I am very fortunate to have had an upbringing where I was able to embrace my culture, unlike many of my American friends my age. I have assimilated so much knowledge of Catholicism as well as my Portuguese heritage through the wisdom of my grandparents. By being up brought by both my paternal and maternal grandparents I have been assimilated with the utmost comprehension of what it truly means to be Portuguese, as it was my first language. I first traveled to the Açores when I was 18 months old, following many trips years later, Portugal and the cultural traditions rooted from it, like the Festa, will always commemorate a special place in my heart. Throughout my life, I have been blessed to attend a school with Catholic education, I currently attend Cathedral Catholic High School, where I can fully embrace and continue to dive deeper into my faith. As an occupied junior, my spare time consists of strengthening relationships with family and friends as well as executing community involvement, especially within the Portuguese community. I started dancing in the Portuguese-American dance group when I was 5 years old. My participation in the dance group since a young age has brought forth so many incredible opportunities, like visiting Portugal — experiencing the abroad outlook, appreciating my culture, and observing the villages where my family grew up. The dance group has not only enabled me to create life-long friendships, but it has also empowered me to appreciate and broaden my perception of Portugal itself. As a former Altar Server for 8 years, I presently Lector at 11am masses, to further participate in mass, to serve the Lord, and stay prevailing in my faith. Additionally, I take communion to the sick and homebound. I continually volunteer at the UPSES Hall assisting with many events, as reflected by Queen St. Isabel. I am very blessed to have been chosen by the hall to be one of the sides, I am very excited for this incredible experience, I am content with what is to come, and what God calls for me to do in my future.