The end of the school year has been busy for Isabel Maldonado as she continued shadowing a pediatrician to learn what being a doctor is all about.
“So far, it has been a great experience,” she says. “Since I am not able to enter the patient’s room because of privacy regulations, I stay in the lab and observe the tests that the nurses do. They also tell me about the patient different cases and the treatments given.”
Maldonado says she finds it interesting to see how the nurses and doctors conduct and examine different tests.
“I have definitely learned a lot,” she says. “Most importantly, shadowing my pediatrician has familiarized me with the medical environment and has increased my desire to become a doctor even more.”
In previous summers, Maldonado volunteered at a camp for kids with autism that is run through the University of Miami’s Center For Autism and Related Diseases (CARD).
“My older cousin volunteered at the camp the year before,” she says. “I decided to join her the summer after. I had a blast. It caused me to be really fascinated with children with disabilities. I plan to volunteer there again this summer.”
The experience may also develop into a service project that will help kids in middle school learn about autism and how to treat kids who are autistic.
“They stare at them in public and single them out,” she says.
She wants to give presentations at middle schools to make the kids aware of what to do and not to do when dealing with children with autism.
“I’m basically going to explain to them and give them a better understanding of disabilities.
Just to give them a better understanding,” she says. “I want them to know that it’s not okay to look down on them. I want to change their perspective.”
Most of the kids she dealt with at the camp had Asperger’s. They were high functioning and could all speak and read.
“It’s actually, one in 40-something boys, one in 80-something girls (that have it),” she says.
“It’s most common in boys.”
She hopes to build on the concept and involve more students.
“I want to find a group of high schoolers who would be interested in educating other kids on these disorders,” she says.
She looked into starting a Best Buddies Club at Palmetto, but the funding wasn’t available.
Maldonado will be busy next year, having taken on the job as treasurer of the Class of 2015.
This year she was on the Student Council cabinet as secretary of involvement. She is also involved in the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and Eight Habits of the Heart.
“We go into freshman classes and we teach them eight values and morals that are in a book,” she says.
She received the Core Values Award this year. The award is given to students who demonstrate Palmetto’s core values — honesty, cooperation, integrity, kindness, fairness, responsibility, respect, citizenship and pursuit of excellence.
Maldonado is a mentor in the Panther to Panther program. She was assigned a freshman and helped her to do well academically. She is also an athlete and plays tennis for Palmetto High.
She had a good year and won all of her matches.
— By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld