Nicholas Zanlongo earned a Bilingual Diploma from the International Baccalaureate program at Coral Gables High School.
Now that he officially has graduated, he is moving on to Florida International University for a degree in mechanical engineering. He is following a family tradition; both his father and brother attended FIU.
As far as his career after college, it is an ambitious one. One of his dreams has been to design spacecraft for the space program. He said he doodles spacecraft design when he is taking notes.
Zanlongo also is interested in plants and gardening.
“I had this affinity for vegetation since I was little,” he said.
In fact, he had a small vegetable garden that he planted when he was age 7 or 8.
Although his parents helped him, he was the one who watered it every day and he checked for bug infestations.
His interest in plants led him to volunteer at Fairchild Tropical Garden. There he worked in a variety of areas from selling plants to managing the grounds, which involved working with plants.
“We take care of the plants, water them, move them,” Zanlongo said. “There are certain things about how to handle a certain plant a certain way — a proper amount of water, a proper amount of mulch. Things of that sort.”
He would volunteer at Fairchild on the weekends and for big events such as the Mango and Chocolate festivals. Surprisingly, his favorite part of volunteering at Fairchild was not taking care of plants, although he did enjoy that.
“It’s selling items to people because I get to interact with the people who come from all over the world,” he said. “I’ve interacted with a wide variety of cultures and races.”
As a volunteer, Zanlongo sold plants and fruits grown on the grounds of the garden.
“They tend to be specific to the festival going on. During the mango festivals we sell mangos and chocolates and so on,” he said.
His favorite festival is the mango festival followed by the Chiluly Festival.
— Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld