Amy Rivera Cuevas had always dreamed of studying the arts. Beginning at a young age, Cuevas found a passion in singing and then began to play the piano. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Cuevas did not have many opportunities to pursue her passion as the arts were not offered at her school; she was only able to participate in choir outside of classes. Cuevas has quite the resume, having been the winner of Viva la Voz Puerto Rico, a singing competition for young artists. Recently Amy and her mother Zenaida Cuevas moved to Toledo where she has enrolled in the Toledo School for the Arts. While the school has gained a talented student, the story that brought her to Toledo is not as glamorous.

Currently an eleventh grader at TSA, Cuevas has endured events that many could only imagine. A survivor of Hurricane Maria, Cuevas recounts what happened as the hurricane hit the island and its aftermath. She discusses the moment the water began to seep through the roof as her family sat in their house and all they could do was throw down towels in an attempt to absorb the water flooding the rooms. The day following the hurricane she and her family had no form of communication. She explains,“ there was no light and the radio stopped working, so we didn’t know [if] the hurricane had left or what was happening.” Every morning Cuevas and her family would drive to get clean water in order to have plumbing. She continues on to say that a week passed before they were able to contact her uncle, who lives in Toledo and let him know that they were safe.

After two weeks, the island was still without power. A friend came to visit Cuevas and was the only reason that she aware of school starting again, even though there was no power or air conditioning in any of the buildings. Soon after she received a call from her uncle about becoming a student at the Toledo School for the Arts where she could begin in January. On December 26th, Cuevas and her mother boarded a plane to Detroit to start their new life in Toledo with the attitude of “it is only up from here.”

Since coming to TSA, Cuevas has been thriving and growing in the arts. She laughingly says that getting used to the temperature has been the hardest adjustment for her. The school staff and students have been welcoming to Cuevas and have helped her through the adjustment process. Focusing on singing and chorus, she has been able to pursue her passion for the arts and has even started taking piano lessons. She recently auditioned for Pop Combo and is excited for this potential opportunity. As the school year continues Cuevas says that she is most excited for “learning and being educated in what I am passionate about…and being able to express things through the arts.”

Amy Rivera Cuevas has inspired TSA with her cheerful nature and brave attitude. TSA Artistic Director David Saygers describes the hours of effort required to arrange for Amy’s enrollment as very rewarding. “As we came to know about the many delays in her education and musical development as the difficulties in Puerto Rico extended into the winter, we were eager to help her and her family by enrolling her at TSA. It was also a great opportunity to help our students and families understand the situation in Puerto Rico better.”

Amy has endured this very difficult year with a positive attitude along the way. Already having decided she wants to study the arts in college, this young student is full of potential and is pursuing her passion for the arts.

To support Puerto Rico, donations to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund may be made here.