Last summer, Palmetto High School senior Nina Batista spent several weeks as a volunteer at Camp Shelton, the camp for kids at the Shelton Academy. Batista played sports with the young campers.
“My cousin asked if we wanted to help out and I said sure, because I like kids,” Batista says.
Batista has also helped children by going along with her godmother to work with Manos Unidos En Accion.
“We went to an underprivileged neighborhood,” she says. “My sister and I entertained the kids while my godmother and the coordinator talked to the parents about how to be better parents. The kids were doing arts and crafts and singing.”
Batista says she helped out two or three times a week during her freshman year.
Through her membership in several Palmetto High clubs — including Pink Ribbon Club, Key Club and Interact — Batista has earned community service hours at several walk-a-thons, including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She also collected books and donated them to a cousin who is a teacher.
“Originally I wanted to start with children’s books because she works at a community center, but then I accepted books up to teenage reading levels,” Batista says. “I gave them to my cousin and she’s going to use them at her school, the Joy of Learning in the Doral area.”
Batista donated books from her own collection, including Dr. Seuss and Junie B. Jones.
Batista is also a member of the National Honor Society, the English National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and the Student Council Cabinet.
“We all have different positions and we specialize in certain areas, but we all work together,” she says.
Her position is an appointive one. She has been on the Student Council Cabinet for two years now. This year, she has an executive internship. For that, she goes to match classes and tutors students.
“I help the teachers,” she says. “It’s just an extra class.”
This year her schedule includes Advanced Placement Macroeconomics, AP English, AP Spanish, AP Calculus and Photography Four. Being in the photography class has helped her develop a love for taking pictures in black and white.
“I think it’s beautiful because with black and white film, you bring the picture to life,” she says. “In black and white you can imagine things however you want to.”
Batista says the teacher’s goal is to help the students see things differently.
“We get to choose a saturation area,” she says. “You’re supposed to get tired of it so you can see things in a different way then you did before.”
While photography is a passion, it’s not in her college plans. She expects to take psychology as a major as an undergrad and then go on to law school.
“That’s because of my dad, he’s a lawyer and he inspired me,” she says. “He and I are exactly the same person, so I want to be like him.”
Batista’s college list includes many of the state schools, Florida, Florida State and the University of Central Florida. Her top choice is FSU.
Batista is an athlete and ran track for two years. But last year she had academic conflicts on track meet days last year and could not compete.
“In my first year, I ran the 800 and last year I trained for the 200-meter relay,” she says, adding that she hopes to be able to compete this year.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld