Christian Cortes graduated last month from Palmetto High School. In just a few weeks, he’ll be making his way north to attend the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He will start by taking marketing classes.
“I guess when I get there I’ll be taking several intro courses,” he says. “I’ve always been interested in advertisements. I may end up in finance, but right now, marketing.”
In high school, Cortes was president of DFYIt, the club known for its goal of keeping students drug and alcohol free. It’s a mainstay in both public and private schools.
“I was in it for seven years,” he says. “I guess I joined just because I felt strongly about the issue. I just never approved; I’ve always heard people talk about alcohol and getting drunk, but I never saw that it was necessary.”
Club members work on community service projects and attend regular meetings.
“We were recognized at Palmetto as the School Club of the Year,” he says. “We were recognized as the Miami-Dade DYFYIt Club of the year. It’s an award given to one club out 70 high schools. I also won President of the Year.”
Cortes says one of the highlights of the year was the mock graveyard that was set up in Bayfront Park in the early spring.
“We set up a graveyard right across Biscayne Boulevard,” he says. “We put out 300 tombstones. It was a guerilla marketing campaign. We worked with two other high schools.”
The message that was sent out with the mock graveyard essentially was, “Be sober!”
Because of his work for DYFYIt, he was awarded a $5,000 scholarship. He also won Palmetto’s Paw Award for leadership and an award for being the most active member of Mu Alpha Theta. He was the co-vice president of competition for Mu Alpha Theta.
“We would coordinate the competition and we would go all of the classrooms to recruit people to be competitors,” he says. “Anyone who wanted to compete could.”
They held after school sessions and the week before a competition everyone would take a practice exam. Those who scored the highest would be in the competition.
“I participated in every competition from freshman year to senior year except for the last two,” he says. “For one, I went to Europe and one was the weekend of my prom.”
Cortes says math has always been his strongest subject. During his senior year, he took multi-variable calculus and differential equations.
He also was a member of the Gay Straight Alliance and the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society and the Science National Honor Society.
Outside of school, Cortes has his own online business buying and selling Disney collectables – pins and vinylmation. He works with his brother, who may take over the business when Cortes goes to school.
“I started out collecting,” he says. “Once we were pin trading; we were young and my parents were buying everything. We decided to start buying pins on eBay and re-selling them. We stopped collecting a few years ago. Now we just sell pins. We buy collections at a wholesale price and we resell them individually at a higher price.”
His eBay store is a platinum power seller.
Cortes also tutors students who need help in math. Originally, he donated the profits to Miami-Dade Animal Service to prevent dogs and cats from being euthanized. But when he was accepted to Penn, his parents persuaded him to save the money for college.