Senior Elizabeth Perez is the Gulliver Prep Silver Knight nominee in athletics. Her sports are water polo and swimming, although she swam mostly to keep herself in shape for water polo.
“I started swimming my sophomore year of high school,” she says. “I have been playing water polo since sixth grade.”
She played with a club team (Riptides) that practices at Gulliver and then when the water polo season started, she joined the school team.
Water polo is a spring sport with a pre-season that begins in January. Games begin in February and end in April.
“I’m really excited about our girls this year,” she says. “We have a strong and dedicated team.”
Last year they were district champs but lost in the regionals game. This year they hope to make it further. She’s been on a state championship team and two state-runner up teams. She played in the state championship game her sophomore year.
“It was a great experience,” she says.
She’s good enough to make the All Miami-Dade Water Polo team in 2017 and 2018, and Third Team All American in 2018.
She plans to play in college on a club team at the very least and hopefully on a school team.
Her Silver Knight project involved the Deering Estate at Cutler. She attended the camp from age 8 until she was eligible to be a volunteer at 15.
“I’ve been a volunteer almost every day of summer and on teacher work days,” she says.
The goal of the camp is to promote environmental stewardship.
“I personally enjoy teaching them about Florida,” she says. “I make it a point to teach them about plants they can use or have to watch out for. I try to build an appreciation for the land.”
She makes them aware that the Pine Rockland is endangered and there’s only two percent left.
Perez is part of the group that will work to restore a Pine Rockland site off 184 Street and Old Cutler Road.
She’s interested in ethnobotany, the study of the relationships between people and plants, but her main passion is marine biology.
She applied for early decision to the University of Miami and hopes to study at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
“I really want to do coral reef research. That’s the most abundant eco system,” she says. “Even the deep-sea fish are often born on coral reefs.”
She’s already been accepted to the University of Hawaii and University of New England.
At Gulliver, Perez is vice president of the Scuba Club and a member of the Oceanography and Environmental club. With that club she went to the Bahamas for a week in December. They visited the Cape Eleuthera Institute and learned about invasive lionfish and helped the institute with turtle research.
“We got to capture turtles and tag them,” she says.
She also went on a Gulliver sponsored trip to the island of Bonaire.
“We are working with a local school there to create an artificial reef,” she says.
She’s in the National English Honor Society, the Creative Writing Club (the Rambling Raiders) and took a novel writing class last year with a requirement of self-publishing a book at the end. She’s also in the GPaws Club.
Summers she volunteers at the Gulliver water polo camp.
“We get a lot of young kids. We’re teaching them how to swim and the basics of water polo,” she says.
She goes to water polo tournaments year-round with her club team, and won a gold medal at Junior Olympics in 2017.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld