Reyna Segovia moved to Miami from Venezuela almost two years ago. Although she grew up in Latin America, she speaks English with just the slightest of accents.
“I moved here with my dad,” Segovia says. “Over there they taught us to read and write perfectly.
I’m a perfectionist so I’ve been working on it. When I was very little, my dad put me and brother and sister in the international school.”
Segovia says her family spoke Spanish at home so the kids wouldn’t lose their ability to speak the language. When she first moved to Miami and started her sophomore year at Palmetto High School, it took a while fir her to get acclimated before becoming involved in extracurricular activities. Once she felt comfortable, she went out for cheerleading.
“It doesn’t really exist over there,” she says. “Looking at the American dream, I thought, ‘Oh, let’s try it.’ And it worked out.”
Segovia also joined Student Government and became treasurer.
Anytime the Student Council has a sale or collects money, she is there to work. She is on duty during the lunches to sell tickets to events or even sell shirts. She is also vice president of Students Helping Achieve Philanthropic Excellence or SHAPE. Club members raise money to give to other organizations. Segovia says the idea is to teach students about philanthropy.
Each year, SHAPE has a theme. This year the theme was the environment. Last year it was education, so SHAPE donated to the Palmetto choir and to Easter Seals. Segovia says half the money raised goes to organizations that fit the mission statements and half goes to the school.
To raise money this year, club members decided to sell empanadas.
“Every Tuesday we get empanadas and sell them for $2,” she says. “They are made with spinach and cheese and they’re really good.”
When they began selling empanadas, they were made with beef. But this year, they switched to the spinach and cheese variety. It took students a while to warm up to the vegetarian empanadas, but by February they began to sell out their inventory.
“As a group we choose who we give the money to,” she says. “We keep in touch with the school and the student body and let the students know what we can do.”
Segovia has her own community service project to collect items needed for children at an orphanage in Caracas.
“They need wipes, lotion and also belts and bathing suits,” she says. “I collect stuff for kids from four years old to 18 years old.”
Segovia hopes to place collection boxes in a numerous locations and asked schools and churches for help. She plans to accept donations until the end of the summer and hopes to ship 10-20 large boxes of goods. She also wants to take some items with her and distribute them when she goes to Venezuela for a visit.
“I’m doing it with a couple friends at school,” she says. “They’re not from Venezuela, but they wanted to help.”
Segovia’s long-term goal is to be a doctor. Last summer, she attended a pre-medicine program at Northwestern University and she says she is positive about the idea of becoming a doctor.
“I’m debating whether to major in premed, biology or psychology,” she says. “I want to be a pediatric surgeon.”
Segovia and her dad are planning a college tour for the summer, but she says she will be happy if she ends up attending a school in state.
— By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld