Miami Palmetto High senior Nicole Quintela has a community service project called Help for Haiti.
“Every year around Christmas time, we have a toy drive and we send the toys to Port-a-Prince,” she says.
They usually collected and ship 60-70 toys each year. She sends them to someone who lives in the capital of Haiti and he takes them to a school that he is familiar with. He sends Quintela pictures of the donation.
Quintela’s family is from Cuba so she is aware of the poverty and desperation of the poor people who live in the Caribbean.
“I feel privileged living in the city and have this opportunity,” she says.
She hopes that the donations brighten the day for the children and make the day a little better for them.
Quintela has a curious mind so she decided to attend a summer immersion program with Girls Who Code.
“I decided to take it to a different level,” she says. “I founded a branch of Mu Alpha Theta called Women in Technology. I started teaching how to code though online classes.”
She finds coding like a puzzle to solve.
“My passion keeps growing,” she says. “I noticed a gender gap in computer science, a 20-80 ratio. The women I know are so creative. Women belong in technology. I didn’t see a reason for this gender gap.”
She held bi-weekly meetings starting September 2020. The attendees learned Python coding lessons.
“We had 70 members to begin with,” she says. “They’ve learned so much. It’s such an honor to immerse girls who didn’t have coding experience before.
The club gives girls an open door and an opportunity.
“They were so eager,” she says. “It’s something new, not like math or science. It involves creativity.”
They also brought in speakers – six to seven over the school year. Most local, many from the University of Miami and one from the University of Pennsylvania.
“It was all virtual because of coronavirus,” she says. “All virtual and all women who have been successful in the field.”
She’s also worked on furthering her own skills by taking Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles and this year she’s taking Computer Science Coding.
“It’s like learning a new language,” she says.
At school, Quintela is a member of the Science National Honor Society, the National Honor Society and is on the Student Council. She also plays varsity lacrosse. She’s been on the team since sophomore year.
She was an instructor for Pinecrest City Music.
“I had to put together music and coding in a way a child could learn,” she says. “These are children who are interested in music and also computer science. I had to see how to include music in coding.”
She’s been a tutor for two years now and she has been working on forming a company for that called Enlightened Education.
“It’s virtual. And we book virtual and in person lessons,” she says.
She’s brought together a group of students who are able to tutor.
“We get clients based on how we advertise,” she says. “Based on who can tutor the subject most efficiently, they’ll get the client.”
For college, she’s interested in many fields of study, but she says the strongest pull is toward computer science. However, she’s also interest in business and the medical field.
She’s interested in applying to Columbia, the University of Florida, or U Penn. If she’s accepted at U Penn she’d major in business.
Outside of school, she has been volunteering at Friendship Circle since her freshman year.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld