Gulliver Prep senior Catalina Munoz is the Prep’s Silver Knight nominee in the Social Science category. Munoz is a committed volunteer at St. Louis Catholic Church, earning about 1,400 community service hours.
She has an active role in New Life, the youth group. They have retreats and weekly meetings. She’s active in the planning.
“I love to step up and help where help is needed,” she says.
One example of when she stepped up to take charge was when she took on the task of renovating the Youth Room. The room was no longer functional because it had fallen into disrepair.
“I reached out to the youth minister to ask if I could clean it,” she says. “We had to go through all the trash from 30 years, throw out all the furniture and go to various houses to pick up new furniture.”
The renovations entailed more than just painting and trash removal.
“Actually, the most trying part of the process was when we had to scrape off 30 years of old paint in this room whose air conditioning was broken,” she says. “We had someone come in to plaster the walls and after the professional came in, we painted it ourselves.”
She was the one who talked to the contractors and made sure new windows were installed and air conditioning restored.
“The church was able to cover the cost for the plastering and the paint,” she says. “I was able to reach out to my family and jujitsu community to get new furniture. It is in mint condition but all donated.”
She also has a leadership role in the Peer Ministry, where the leaders go to different churches throughout Miami and organize retreats.
“Those that don’t have the resources to have their own retreats, we do it for them,” she says. “In the summer, we host a weeklong retreat so students can learn to become leaders. I have led three weeklong retreats.”
The hope is that the students at the retreat will go back to their respective churches and become leaders. The retreats have been life changing for many who attend.
“I have been told several times, ‘thank you for changing my life.’ That is one of the rewards of ministry, knowing you’ve made a difference in these kids’ lives.”
Even though she is still a teen, she’s been given a task usually reserved for adults, as the leader of a small group for a weekly confirmation class.
At Gulliver, she is the vice president of the National Art Honor Society and sets up art related community service opportunities for members. For her art she likes to work traditionally with oil paint or watercolor. Her inspiration is drawn from her involvement with the church.
Munoz is a member of the Gulliver Geography Bee team. She’s also a member of the Chinese Club and the Gulliver Prep Academic Honor Council. The Honor Council deals with students who have cheated.
“Our main goal is not to condemn them but to give them advice,” she says.
Last year, during Spring Break, Munoz became a messenger for the Florida House of Representatives.
“I found it really interesting. It definitely aligned with my passions, as I want to study Politics and International Relations,” she says.
While there, she relayed messages between legislative offices, saw the House in session and participated in a mock legislative session.
Munoz has already been accepted at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and Florida International University. She’s still waiting to hear from Florida State and the University of Florida.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld