Gulliver Prep senior Brock Sevilla finds joy in helping a child read. Sevilla volunteers at the Gulliver International Baccalaureate program, Teach For America. Each Saturday he works with a specific child and helps that child improve their reading skills.
When they arrive, the children choose the books they want to read and then read them to the volunteer.
“At the beginning, these kids are out to impress you, so they take the harder books,” Sevilla says. “At the end, a book that he was unable to read at the beginning, he was able to read just fine. I felt good about that.”
Sevilla says he likes working with the children.
“My favorite part is afterwards when we get to play on the playground,” he says.
The volunteers were encouraged to donate books for the program. After the student read the book, they were allowed to take it home.
Read For America is a program that takes place during the school year. That enabled Sevilla to spend this past summer as an intern through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Miami Department Biomedical Engineering. “We were actually looking at disc problems,” he says.
“We were testing different treatment groups to see if we could slow the degeneration (of discs).”
At the end of the program, he and the other students wrote a research paper and presented the paper to students, professors and parents at the UM Cox Science Building at. Sevilla says the experiments he dealt with had extraneous variables that led to them not working. In the paper, he and his lab partner proposed new solutions that could allow the experiments to show success.
At Gulliver, Sevilla is president of the school club Uniteen. Uniteen hosts a talent show and has bake sales to raise money.
“To help fund Teach For America and several other things,” he says, adding that they may donate some of the money to a school in Kenya.
“ The main beneficiary is Holmes Elementary, the school Gulliver has partnered with for the Teach For American program. The money is used to buy books and toys for the children to play with after they are finished reading.
“At the end of it last year we threw a pizza party for them,” he says. “They actually get really excited about it. They range from third to fifth grade. You build a strong emotional bond with the kids. They tell you things. You want to go. You know the kid feels bad that his buddy didn’t come.”
Outside of school, Sevilla is involved in an organization called Partners in Health.
“They go into other countries and train the locals to perform medical procedures,” he says. “I raised money to give to the orphanage that they work at there. I sold jewelry for it. I was planning a visit to go down there this summer but the research program was my whole summer.”
He has also volunteered at the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. He would help people who were there for cancer treatments. He was a regular volunteer from his freshman year to his junior year.
“I just basically helped out by greeting people and bringing people food,” he says. “Talking to them. That sort of thing.”
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld