Palmer Trinity junior Gabriela Calvo volunteers at Baptist Hospital twice in the Volunteer Services department. When she’s there, she runs errands including delivering blood or urine to be tested at the lab.
Calvo decided to volunteer at Baptist because she’s undecided about a career, but one of the top options for her is medicine.
She’s been volunteering at Baptist for a couple of years now. She’s been there long enough that she trains new volunteers and shows them around the hospital.
Calvo also volunteers at school in the Writing Center.
“I have a lot of interests, that’s why I’m undecided (about a career),” she says. “I’m interested in a lot of things.”
One of the things she’s really fascinated by is research projects.
“I recently completed an essay on how law enforcement prosecutes rapists,” she says. “I was passionate about that. I like taking on projects that I’m passionate about.”
She completed the research project for her Advanced Placement English class, Language and Composition. She has contributed to the school newspaper.
“I did a piece on how to improve standardized testing,” she says. “On how it can be biased against students who come from lower income backgrounds. If you come from a higher income background you can do test prep which can dramatically increase your scores.”
Calvo is also involved in Palmer’s literary magazine. Students are encouraged to submit fiction pieces to the magazine. The editors choose the best pieces for the magazine that is distributed at the end of the year.
“I help with choosing submissions,” she says.
They begin reading submissions in the second semester, meeting once a month to complete the process.
She missed one of the meetings because she was at the Florida State Spanish Conference.
“It’s essentially a competition and lots of Florida schools go,” she says. “I had to do an impromptu speech about gender roles in Spanish.”
After the points were compiled, Palmer’s team won first place in their division.
“If you get 35 or above, they give you a trophy. I got a 38,” she says.
Calvo is a member of the Spanish Honor Society and was chosen to compete by her Spanish teacher.
She’s also a Peer Counselor. Peer Counselors help the younger students feel welcome and work to make the transition from middle school to high school easier. Calvo says they talk to eighth graders and make sure they feel comfortable in ninth grade.
The counselors also help the younger students with bullying issues. They recently took a survey to see how prevalent bullying is at Palmer and how the kids feel about bullying. When the results came out, the counselors talked to the students about the issues.
“Most of them felt that they were pretty safe, so it was good,” she says. “We do conflict resolution, too. But usually those go to the guidance counselor and the guidance counselor will assign a peer counselor.”
The psychology of the counseling issues interests her. Last year she did an independent study for her psychology teacher on depression.
“Before, I kind of thought depression was being unreasonably sad,” she says. “I learned in reality, it’s not just being sad. It can also be due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. I had no idea that it could happen.”
She took on the project because she found her Advanced Placement psychology class interesting.
This summer, Calvo is scheduled to do a mission trip to South Dakota to volunteer at a Native American Reservation.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld