Miami Palmetto High senior Juan Flechas moved to Miami with his family just a couple of years ago. He came directly from Germany although his home country is Colombia.
“In Colombia I won a scholarship to Germany to finish ninth grade,” he says. “I went to Germany for three months.”
He had the opportunity to go to Germany because he attended a German school in Colombia learning in German and Spanish. He says his mom wanted him to learn another language.
When family circumstances changed and his family moved to Miami, he did not return to Colombia, instead coming directly to Miami where he began his sophomore year.
He did not know much English until he arrived in Miami.
“I studied a little bit in Germany,” he says. “Like English classes in other countries, it was basic.”
Flechas has a gift for languages. He is currently fluent in German, Spanish and English. He also enjoys learning. He loves his Advanced Placement classes. They allow him to push himself academically and he’s surrounded by other students who value learning as much as he does.
He’s thrown himself into extracurricular activities and become involved in Palmetto.
“I love Palmetto. It has helped me a lot,” he says.
He’s a member of the Honors Council.
“Basically, when you have problems at school, they send you to us,” he says. “There are only five of us on honors council. We help students who struggle in school. If they cheat, they come to us.”
Last year he was involved in Key Club and the Spanish National Honor Society, Model United Nation and the Pep Squad, which promotes school spirit.
He’s also a member of Students Working Against Tobacco. Club members participated in a number of campaigns to persuade students to stay away from tobacco and vaping. They warned young people against the companies that were using them to see if the products worked and those young people ended up becoming addicted.
Flechas won a scholarship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Foundation’s High School Scholars program which allowed him to work with University of Miami doctors in the labs at Jackson Memorial Hospital who were studying paralysis.
At the end of the summer program he had to present a research paper to the faculty and students.
“I worked the whole summer, and now I’m getting an internship,” he says.
Flechas lives in the Brickell area and takes public transportation to get to school, waking up around 5 a.m. With after school activities like volleyball practices and games, he doesn’t get home until late and doesn’t get to bed before 11 p.m.
The internship will limit his participation in some after school activities.
“Right now, I’m only focuses on things I need for college,” he says.
However, he plans to continue as a member of the Honors Council and the National Honor Society and the volleyball team.
He was the varsity co-captain last year and hopes to be captain this year. He expects the team to do well this year, maybe even go to the state championship tournament.
Finances will determine his final decision but he hopes to receive a scholarship so he can attend the University of Miami. He’s vying for scholarships through the Questbridge or Posse programs. Both programs have partner colleges, so if he is awarded a Questbridge scholarship he hopes to go to Northwestern for the biomedical program or MIT for research. If he earns a Posse scholarship, Syracuse tops his list.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld