Gabriella Fagundez, a senior at St. Brendan High School, has a big decision to make — art vs. animals.
Fagundez has two passions in life — painting and animals. For most of her life she has been able to fuse the two and use animals as her primary subjects in her award-winning art. That love of animals also has fueled her drive to do well in school and pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian.
Like most high school seniors at this time of year, Fagundez will have some big decisions to make about where to go to college, but for her the choice boils down to choosing which passion to pursue.
An artist from the get-go, Fagundez has been wielding a paintbrush since she could hold one. Lessons early on helped her learn the basics, but a real love for it coupled with extraordinary talent has propelled her to winning top spots over the past year in a multitude of a contests.
Gabriella took second place overall at last year’s Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, first place in the 2014 Fairchild Challenge, and was the winner of this year’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) poster contest. She also has been chosen to exhibit at the Archdiocese of Miami Art Exhibit and the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum.
Ranked 21 of 298 with a weighted GPA of 4.89, she succeeded in being accepted into the University Florida where she can pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian. However Gabriella also won a highly coveted spot at the Art Institute of Chicago with a $61,000 Merit Scholarship.
Painting, which has always been source of relaxation and a way to decompress after a hectic high school day full of AP and honors level courses, has become a new college opportunity for her. Gabriella’s drive to excel both in art and academics has been fruitful.