Westminster valedictorian Sara V. Fernandez’s next big move is to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) to possibly study mechanical engineering. Sara wants to work on simplifying medical devices.
“To make medical procedures less socially invasive,” she says. “It would be nice if treatments could be made simpler and more efficient so that patients wouldn’t have to be seen wearing thin, paper gowns for longer than they felt comfortable doing. My grandfather experienced this discomfort in the hospital and it appeared more painful to him than his injuries.”
She’s also interested in tissue engineering.
“Applying engineering to the medical field,” she says.
She will also be competing in tennis for the M.I.T. women’s team.
Fernandez is a competitive tennis player who played for Westminster and on the USTA Junior Circuit. Until her senior year, Fernandez would compete in two tournaments a month. She cut back on the competitions to concentrate on academics, writing college essays, and taking the ACT.
“I was still training, just not competing,” she says. “I’ve only played one or two singles tournaments this past year.”
She had a good senior tennis season, making it to the semi-finals in the district competition.
“I ended up losing in three sets to the person who later won the state tournament,” she says.
While competing regularly, she was ranked as a four-star player.
“I was always in the top 200 when I was competing in tournaments,” she says. “My highest ranking ever on tennisrecruiting.net was 102 in the country.”
Fernandez started playing tennis competitively around age ten. She plans on playing tennis competitively after graduating from college.
While at Westminster, Fernandez started a chapter of the Toastmasters Gavel Club.
“It’s a public speaking speech-creation club,” she says. “People are given a new topic at each meeting and have complete creative liberty to make it their own.”
People are given five minutes to speak and then those attending evaluate them and give them tips on how to improve. She received feedback that the club was useful to those who were socially isolated in helping them learn how to talk to people and ultimately make long-lasting friendships.
“I personally want to be a better public speaker,” she says. “I’m good at formulating my thoughts and I thought it would be cool to help out other people at school.”
She was also on the Quiz Bowl team.
“The team would gather and answer questions, be it about history, math, or science,” she says. “This year, I was on a team of four that competed in a Science Bowl competition. We won a few of the rounds…more than my school had before.”
Fernandez entered the regional Science Fair three times and qualified for the State Science and Engineering Fair her freshman and sophomore years.
She participated in Westminster’s inaugural engineering program.
She was the only freshman in the first-year class and earned her Autodesk Inventor Certification.
Fernandez was in the Westminster Literature Magazine Club her freshman and sophomore years. Then the Creative Writing class started a new literary magazine. She contributed works to each publication and earned first place on her short story about her greyhound.
“I wrote about how we adopted my dog,” she says. “We adopted Molly and took her home. Though we thought she’d be thrilled, Molly wasn’t wagging her tail. We thought it was broken. As time passed, we realized that she had never known how to wag her tail because of all the hardships she’d endured. We were happy to give her a loving home.”
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld