Positive People in Pinecrest

positive people july 10 2017

Ada Yan
Ada Yan

Throughout the 2014-2015 school year, Palmetto High School rising senior Ada Yan volunteered at the Possible Dream Foundation. The foundation was started by Dr. Michael Geraldi, who along with his wife Camille, adopted numerous disabled children and provided them with a loving home. Yan would visit several times a month. She also donated toys, food and helped them organize events outside of regular work.

“There were not only children my age and younger that were injured/disabled, but an elderly lady as well, Mama Di,” she says. “There were two paralyzed individuals – Adam and Gabriella. My family and I placed crafts by their bedsides and talked to them, hoping they could hear. The residents were all quite lonely, and begged me to stay.”

After that, Yan joined a group that performed weekly at the Heartland Health Care Center. She played piano for the residents. Recently, Yan decided to start her own music ensemble to play at a retirement home. She has an eclectic group. She plays classical piano. A fellow Palmetto student plays the bagpipe, a student from Southwood does visual arts, another student plays the oboe and she’s just recruited someone who plays guitar and sings. She’s working on recruiting someone who plays classical acoustic guitar. She learned to play piano when she was six. Her first teacher was her mom and then moved to the Royal Conservatory Program when she was ten. This past year, she participated in a master class at the University of Miami in the Frost School of music. There were only a few students and each one had to perform a piece.

“The teacher would give a critique and then ask if we knew the history (of the music),” Yan says. “She said that was important, to understand the composer’s motive.”Yan says she performed her piece well, with few errors. “I was the most advanced student,” she says. Yan will piano for the Palmetto orchestra for the next school year.

This summer, she’ll be interning at the University of Miami in the Nano Science section of the Chemistry Lab. She’ll go twice a week and help in the research on the diffusion of dyes. “It can be applied to the delivery of medication,” she says. 

At Palmetto, Yan is involved in Model United Nations and the Science National Honor Society. She competed in the Fairchild Tropical Garden Challenge and received a special merit award for great research on a poster she submitted about the Everglades. Yan also competed at the Southeast Regional in Envirothon. Her team won first place in the Oral category. She’s been a member of Palmetto’s Model UN team for a year. She’s the undersecretary of web design and media services for the club. Yan participated in two Model UN competitions. At the second competition, she won an award for her position paper. Participating in the competition on Climate Change gave her a new perspective on the issue. “In environmental science, we often talk about the solutions but not about the economy,” she says. “Sometimes the economy is an incentive for countries not to do anything about it.” Yan created the website for the conference that the Palmetto team hosts for middle school students interested in Model UN.

Yan’s list of dream colleges includes UC Berkley, which she visited with the National Student Leadership Conference for bio technology. She’s also intrigued by MIT, Cornell, Princeton, Cal Tech, and Johns Hopkins. Her safety schools include the University of Miami, FIU, Stetson, and the Florida Institute of Technology. Her expected major is biochemistry.

Nicholas Macia
Nicholas Macia

At 15, Miami Palmetto High rising senior Nicholas Macia went on a two-and-a-half-week trip to China. He paid for the trip himself. He had always wanted to visit China and asked his parents if they could make a deal that would allow him to go. The answer was, pay for it yourself, get the logistics done and get straight A’s in school.

“I saved the money I had for my whole life,” he says. “I don’t spend money. I worked the summer before I left. My dad gave me a few bucks after I bought my tickets.” He traveled alone for 23 hours where he was met by a friend and the friend’s mother at Beijing’s International Airport. Now at the age of 17, he will return to China for five weeks. But this time he’ll be traveling throughout the country with only one friend. “We are going to see Tibet and the Himalayas,” he says. “We are arriving in Beijing, traveling to Tianjin, taking a train ride to see Tibet, then the southern part of China, and the provinces.” He has worked to learn Chinese. He’s taken Chinese 1 and will be taking Chinese 2 this summer. He used the Rosetta Stone program and classes through the Florida Virtual School to learn the language. He is practicing his language skills as a volunteer at the Little Wonders Learning Academy. He works there as a pre-school soccer coach but when he’s not coaching, he spends extra hours as a volunteer. This summer, the academy is having an oriental theme so he’s going to teach Mandarin to the kids. “I’m volunteering to teach them about China, the culture and the language,” he says.

At school, Macia is president for the second year of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence. “5000 Roles Models was originally created as a drop-out prevention program for at-risk youths,” he says. “It was targeted for minorities. Now it’s for anyone interested.” He says the club helps students excel. The members are exposed to both the good and the bad of society.  “In the visits to prisons, you get to talk to inmates and they tell you about their lives and they try to give you as much advice as possible,” he says. He says being in the club has helped him become a leader.  “I interact with other students at school who are in the program,” he says. “I try to make sure it’s not a just a club, but more of a brotherhood where everyone trusts each other.” Through the program he met legendary Congressman John Lewis. “He gave us a speech and we got to ask questions,” he says. Every Wednesday, the members dress up for school. They wear black pants, black shoes, a white shirt, and their signature red tie.  “It ingrains the image in people’s head that you always dress nice,” he says. “I do make sure that everybody in the program that acts like role models.”

Along with his participation in 5000 Role Models, Macia is the webmaster of the Palmetto Women’s Union. He’s also the director of community services for the Psychology Club. He will be on the Honor Council his senior year. “I value honor and integrity,” he says. “I’m going to apply to the United State Naval Academy.” He’s also planning to apply to West Point and the Air Force Academy. Macia is a Police Explorer with Miami-Dade South District. In college, Macia is interested in political science and medicine. He’d like to attend a pre-med or five-year program to become a physicians’ assistant.

Marlowe Starling
Marlowe Starling

One day you may read an article in the New York Times or the Washington Post, written by Palmetto High School rising senior Marlowe Starling. Starling’s already making her mark by attending the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, held in June. She was the only Florida student selected for the scholarship. Starling says the conference was terrific.

“I met some of the biggest names in journalism and it actually cemented my decision to become a journalist!” she says. “It was incredibly inspirational, and meeting fifty other student journalists from across the country really helped open my eyes to nationwide concerns that we have as young journalists.” While there she watched a live recording of Meet the Press at NBC Studios and shook Chuck Todd’s hand. She gave him a University of Miami Hurricanes mug as a gift since he’s from Miami. “We met multiple Pulitzer Prize winners and Editors in Chief of the biggest magazines and newspapers in the country in addition to legends like the Freedom Riders,” she says.

Last summer, she was one of 20 Montage Scholars at the University of Miami. For three weeks, the students worked on producing the Miami Montage News Magazine. “We each covered our own stories and learned how to use cameras,” she says. “I walked in there one person and walked out of there another person.” She came up with the theme for the news magazine – a focus on the evolution of South Florida.  Starling’s story was on the Vietnamese salon industry in South Florida.

“Tippi Hedren started the whole thing in California,” Starling says. “She taught them how to do nails. I was doing a ton of research online. I found her agent, and was able to interview her.” At school, Starling is Editor-in-Chief of the Panther, the Palmetto newspaper. “We’re all really excited about this upcoming year,” she says. “I have been hoping to introduce podcasting. I did talk to one of the guys at Miami Montage that was helping us film. I called him earlier this year about equipment for podcasting.” She wants to add more multi-media features to the paper’s website – More videos, more podcasting, better quality photography. She says she’d even like more gifs – maybe for advertising. However, her biggest focus is on the quality of journalism. “We are always proud of what we produce, but there are stories that could have more impact on our readers,” she says. Early in high school, Starling had to choose between Drama or Journalism and chose Journalism.  “It was a hard decision,” she says. She says her journalism teacher helped open her eyes to a different world.

With her love of the written word, it makes sense she is president of the English Honor Society. She’s vice president of the Literary Society, which is Palmetto’s book club. Starling is a Student Council secretary, member of the National Honor Society, co-president of the Honor Council and a member of Thespians. This year Starling won the Outstanding Junior Award, a Scholastics Art & Writing Silver Key for Journalism and previously she won the Palmetto Underclassmen Award for English as a freshman and sophomore. 

For college, she’s considering majoring in English with a minor in Journalism or taking a double major in English and Journalism. She’s also interested in biological sciences. Her college list includes Columbia, Northwestern, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, Missouri, Syracuse, Georgetown, University of Miami, Miami-Dade, FIU, and the University of Florida.

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  1. You need to call and talk to young lady , Dr. Rose Huber and gave her an interview. She is outstanding
    And positive indual.


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