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Jun 26, 2018 2:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Aunt And Niece Prepare For New Chapter After Graduating From High School Together

Emily Ambrocio with her mom, Maria Ambrocio, and her aunt, Lily Gomez.
Jun 26, 2018 2:22 PM

On Friday, June 22, Lily Gomez, a graduating senior at Westhampton Beach High School, moved her white-and-green graduation tassel to the left side of her decorated cap and swung it up into the cloud-covered sky. She smiled at her niece, Emily Ambrocio, who was sitting just a few rows in front of her, and let out a sigh of relief. Moments later, the pair walked back into the high school, a place that has become a second home to them over the past four years, no longer students but alumni. Emily hugged her mom, Maria Ambrocio, and stood next to Lilly, her aunt, but also her best friend, holding up her diploma.

“The feeling of changing the tassel over to the other side, it was exciting for me, because I feel like it signifies a new chapter of my life—moving on, finally growing up. It’s so special,” said Lilly, 18, who studied law enforcement at BOCES as a junior and senior.

Part of the reason it was so special was because she got to do it with Emily, who is also 18.

The dynamic duo have been attached at the hip for as long as they both can remember. They’ve lived together since they were born, just three months apart in 2000, and since then, took their first steps together, had their Quinceañera together, and, now, graduated high school together.

“I feel beyond grateful to be able to graduate with Lily,” said Emily, a certified nursing assistant and phlebotomist.

Their high school graduation also marked a very special day in the lives of Ms. Ambrocio, who also graduated from Westhampton Beach High School, and Lily’s parents, Emilo and Luciana Gomez, neither of whom were able to finish high school after moving to New York from Guatemala.

“That’s why they’re really excited for us,” Lilly explained. “They’re all proud of us.”

Now, come August, after being side by side for so many years, the best friends are getting ready to go their separate ways—but they’re not veering too far apart.

This fall, Emily will be attending Pace University in New York City, where she will be studying nursing, and Lily will be just short of an hour’s drive away at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, where she’ll be pursuing a degree in veterinary technology, with the hope of later going to veterinary school. Emily just accepted a $114,000 scholarship from Pace, and Lily accepted $16,000 from Mercy.

“We have been with each other since forever, and now that we’re going our different ways, it’s sad,” Emily said.

“Yeah, even though I’m her aunt and she’s my niece, it’s more of like a best friend kind of relationship,” Lilly added. “So, I mean, it’s going to be hard, because I’m always used to seeing her every day and annoying her and stuff like that.”

Although it will take some adjusting, Lily said she’s confident that they’ll both be happy and successful in college. She said she’s ready to live on her own, but plans on spending lots of weekends coming back to her home, in Westhampton, and visiting Emily in Manhattan.

“We won’t be living in the same room anymore, but we’re going to be visiting each other all the time,” Lilly said, smiling.

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