Before Spring Break, Coral Gables High senior Eric Ponce learned he was accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Now, he’s trying to decide which school to attend, since he also has been accepted into Cornell and Georgia Tech.
“I’m leaning toward MIT. I’m a math and science nerd,” Ponce said, adding he will decide after visiting the schools.
He wants to major in aerospace engineering.
“Planes have been essentially the same for 20 years,” Ponce said. “I feel they can be more efficient and better. I want to be that person that changes the industry.”
If his high school career is anything to go by, Ponce will be successful. He’s in the International Baccalaureate Honor Society as well as the National Honor Society. He is a vice president of Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society, and tutors fellow students in math.
“I love it. I think it’s really awesome when a kid comes to you and doesn’t know how to [do the math],” Ponce said. “That light bulb goes on in their head and you see it on their faces, and it’s just a great feeling.”
Through Mu Alpha Theta, he has represented Gables in math competitions including a calculus meet as a sophomore. In another event, the Gables math team bested nine other teams at Miami-Dade College. The competition involved designing a way to push a balloon across the gymnasium floor.
He also has competed on a Brain Bowl team and for SECME, a science and engineering club and the computer programming club.
“We’ve actually done well,” he said.
This past summer, Ponce volunteered at the University of Miami’s Center for Autism and Related Diseases (CARD).
“I know the director. I was his assistant for six or seven weeks last summer,” he said.
Ponce said his goal was to free the director to spend more time with the children who needed him.
“They give jobs to some people with disabilities,” he said. “It was pretty enlightening. It was great working alongside them.”
He volunteered at the office because he wanted to do something productive over the summer. — Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld