Palmetto High School senior Jaewon Moon has spent the last couple of summers volunteering in a lab at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
“I’m volunteering in the bio chemistry and molecular biology department,” she says. “Right now I’m working with certain proteins. I have been working on cell constructs and protein expression to understand how DNArepair pathways works and its impact on cancer development.”
Volunteering at the medical school lab should help Moon figure out whether she’s interested in a medical career or if another science- related field is better for her.
At Palmetto, Moon is president of Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society and the Science National Honor Society. She participates in both science and math competitions. In fact, in February she was on the Palmetto team that went to the Kennedy Space Center to compete in the Astronaut Challenge.
“It’s a new competition,” she says. “At the regional level, it was a multiple choice test on space knowledge. At the space center, there was a multiple choice test, but also an engineering portion and there was also a lab presentation portion. We placed on the engineering portion.”
Moon plans to compete in the Astronaut Challenge again. She competed in the Envirothon last year. Her team placed in the aquatics category. Palmetto sent five teams to Envirothon. Only one team per school is able to go on to the state and national levels, even if all the teams do well. Moon also has worked on the Fairchild Challenge for Palmetto.
“Our school won first place overall,” she says. “There are 10 challenges. I participated in the 10th challenge. It was the school’s plan to be more green.”
The plan included how they could reduce the school’s carbon footprint and minimize its energy use. The plan incorporated both the current buildings and how they are going to make the new buildings green.
Moon is also co-president of the Honor Council. She has been on the council since her sophomore year. The council deals with students who have been caught cheating.
“Usually when they are caught, the teacher turns them over to the assistant principal of academics,” Moon says. “The student admits they cheated and we say tell us your story and tell us why what you did it for. We understand the person is human and makes a mistake. We want to mend the relationship, so we have them write a letter to the teacher. The school usually asks them to attend three sessions of detention or tutoring sessions.”
They give the student a chance because the second time they are caught, that infraction goes on their permanent record.
This year, Moon will be on the student council, vice president of community service for the National Honor Society and on the executive board of Interact.
She has initiated a community service project to help The Foundacion Ninos Con Futuro in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Moon collected school supplies, clothing and beauty supplies for the students at the school.
“Basically, it’s a school that is providing for the children in the neighborhood,” she says. “I collect through my school, through the National Honor Society and Interact.”
When she visited the school last summer she realized the children were taking Tae Kwon Do classes on bare concrete, so she collected money to buy mats for the school.
Moon plays piano and participates in Florida Federation of Music Clubs Festivals, earning superior ratings in various categories. She plays flute in the Greater Miami Youth Symphony.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld