New Coral Gables High graduate Maria Victoria Ceballos earned more than 1,000 volunteer hours throughout her high school career.
She volunteered for a variety of organizations, including the Miami Seaquarium, but spent the most time working with Breakthrough Miami. “It helps students from the suburbs and inner city,” she said.
“It provides a great education for the kids. I was a student myself from sixth grade. I started volunteering the summer going into high school.”
Ceballos said she learned from her years with Breakthrough Miami that there are people who care and can give her a helping hand. When she started out, she was an indifferent student but went on to do well in school.
“It’s up to you to change that and change your future,” she said. “That gives a lot of hope to kids like me.”
At Breakthrough’s summer programs, Ceballos helped teachers as an aide or helped out in the office. This past year she began teaching science during the Saturday school at Ransom Everglades Middle School campus.
She also volunteered at the Seaquarium’s summer program, helping children do arts and crafts and taking kids to the aquatic shows.
“They were little tiny kids — between 3 and 4 years old,” she said. “They were really cute.”
In college, Ceballos wants to major in interior design and international business.
“A lot of people aim for the big schools. It’s so sad; I can’t afford those schools,” she said. “Even if they accept me, that’s not my reality.”
Her reality is complicated because Ceballos is a “Dreamer,” arriving in the U.S. at age 4 from Argentina.
“My parents came here looking for a better life for my sister and me,” she said.
Ceballos received a scholarship from Rotary to help with college expenses. She will attend the Miami-Dade Honors College at the Wolfson Campus.
— Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld