Santiago Maldonado is regarded as a leader and mentor to many students at Westminster Christian School, as well as children in the community. For his stewardship in school and community organizations, he was nominated for the prestigious Silver Knight Award in the category of Speech. He also was the recipient of Westminster’s Warrior Award, which was presented by the school’s faculty in recognition of his outstanding leadership and attitude.
Maldonado, a senior, served as Student Council president during his junior year and currently serves as president of the executive board.
“It is my duty to manage the four Student Council boards and the executive board and keep these student leaders focused and on task,” he said. “In this position, I was also responsible for leading the committee that organized the school’s successful homecoming dance.”
Maldonado has been swimming since he was three years old and is a member of the Westminster Warriors swim team coached by Lou Manganiello. Volunteering as a swim coach at AquaKids Sharks Summer Camp held at Westminster’s pool each summer has been a natural progression.
“I created games, organized the playrooms and worked hard to help the children enjoy swimming and learn the fundamentals,” said Maldonado. “Swimming builds
Maldonado has also volunteered at two local animal clinics helping to care for the animals and keep the facilities clean. He revealed that the most rewarding volunteer work he does is when he works with children. He said he gains just as much from them as they do from him, and quoted Confucius to describe his philosophy:
“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of 10 years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.”
When Maldonado is not swimming, he is running. He’s a member of the school track and field team and specializes in distance races such as the 800-meter and field events like the long jump.
He is an active member of the Science Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Writer’s Guild.
Maldonado’s heavy load of AP classes combined with his love of helping others have properly prepared him for his future. His goal is to study psychology and become a psychologist or family therapist, while continuing his work with helping and guiding children.
He has applied to 15 schools in Florida and throughout the country, including the University of Miami, Florida, Yale, Duke, Penn State and Boston College. As the acceptance letters pour in, he will continue to narrow his selection and make a final college choice later in the spring.
Whether volunteering in the community or leading the efforts of a school organization, Maldonado finds the roles of leader, mentor and role model to be very rewarding. On the Westminster campus, he goes out of his way reach out to younger students, guide them and encourage them to be active members of the school. In return, he says he is viewed by his peers as a “big brother.”