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Breaking Barriers logo


Through Our lens


Through Our Lens Home
Leslie Elsasser - Introduction
Selina Roman - Looking Inward, Seeing Clearer
Christian Cortes

Beginning (Section A)
Jarrett Gafford - US Air Force
Dawn S. Hargrett - US Navy
Rebekka Huneke - Daughter of US Air Force Veteran Father
Ramonita Rosa - US Army
Kimberlee Nicole Smith - US Army
Monika Sutton - Wife of US Army Veteran
Karl Young II - US Army Colonel (US Special Operations Command)

Advanced (Section B)
James Alexander - US Air Force
Manfredo Bobadilla - US Army
Wildalys Class - US Air Force
Agustin Collazo Jr. - US Marine Corps / US Navy
Amanda Dodd - US Army
Evan Fountain - US Air Force
Mikko Maki - US Marine Corps
Alicia Morales - US Army
RaeAnne Swanson - US Air Force


Alicia Morales, ¡Soy Boricua!, 2022.

Alicia Morales, ¡Soy Boricua!, 2022.


¡Soy Boricua!

During this past year, I have been thinking about cultural identity and memory. Specifically, I have been reflecting on my identity and culture as part of a collective memory. I was raised in Puerto Rico, and being Puerto Rican is integral to who I am. Although Puerto Ricans have distinct personalities, our identities are inseparable from all that Puerto Rico is.

¡Soy Boricua! is a photograph of a building, yet the mural is not my painting. I saw the mural from across the street, and thought “Oh my god, this is me.” The Puerto Rican symbols, and the use of color triggered my cultural memory, it reminded me of who I am. I am a Boricua always, despite my geographical location.

All Hispanics know that we are called Boricuas. The indigenous Taíno peoples called the Island Borinquen which means “land of the great lords.” We are Boricua. It is very much an intrinsic part of our identities, and we carry it with us every day.

The mural reminded me of Borinquen. I realized that I had lost this part of who I am and resolved to make this year my own. Faced with this realization, I began to think about myself, my new me, and taking care of this new me. My renewed sense of self had prompted a surge of self-care and giving myself recognition: recognition of my cultural identity as a Puerto Rican, a Boricua in the United States, and recognition of myself as a woman who takes care of herself both emotionally and physically. I am embracing this new me and celebrating all that makes me who I am. This year is my year.

¡Soy Boricua! is the artistic manifestation of my renaissance, my revival of self-identity and culture, rooted in a specific location but carried with me everywhere.



Alicia Morales, Fireworks on My Shoes, 2022

Alicia Morales, Fireworks on My Shoes, 2022

Alicia Morales, Me and Nature, 2022

Alicia Morales, Me and Nature, 2022



For more information:
Email Leslie Elsasser at

Breaking Barriers is a project by USFCAM in collaboration with the USF School of Art and Art History, with Support from the USF Office of Veterans Success, Community Arts Impact Grant Program of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Love IV Lawrence 2020 Waves of Change Grant, and additional support from the ACE Arts for Community Engagement Fund and the Florida Department of State.