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Hall of Stars - June 2014

From left to right: Commissioner Esteban L. Bovo, Jr.,  Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Commissioner Lynda Bell, who stood in for Bianca Lopez, Michael Gutierrez, Hayden Harripaul, Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa and Commissioner Sally A. Heyman Back Row: Commissioner Jean Monestime and Commissioner José "Pepe" Diaz

Video Highlight

The Unstoppable Scholar - Hayden Harripaul

Schoolhouse Preparatory, 11th grade
Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, District 11

Hayden was born with half a heart and underwent numerous open heart surgeries since his birth. At six months old, his doctors realized he was deaf in his left ear and hard of hearing in his right ear. However, he received numerous therapies and persevered, graduating at the top of his 8th grade class and becoming a dual enrollment student at Miami Dade College in 10th grade.

As a result of the numerous x-rays to monitor his heart, Hayden was diagnosed with thyroid cancer two years ago. Throughout his treatment, he turned in all of his assignments and earned an “A” on every test although he could not be in school.

Hayden has maintained a 4.0 GPA and is the Valedictorian and President of Student Council. He also started a community service club at his school called The Pack Gives Back. Through this club, students collect and deliver toys to children who are hospitalized at Miami Children’s Hospital. He has also placed himself in speech therapy to help improve his articulation, as he visits colleges as a guest speaker to speak to future teachers about the impact a special education teacher can have on a special needs child.

Hayden plans to use his computers skills to study Interior Design at Miami International University of Art & Design. He also aspires to be a motivational speaker in order to teach others how faith and perseverance can help overcome any challenge and beat all odds.

The Emerging Leader - Bianca Lopez

Miami Palmetto Senior High School, 12th grade
Commissioner Lynda Bell, District 8

Bianca is the Vice President of Programs of her Venturing Crew as part of the Girl Scouts of America. Through scouting, she has learned to be an environmentally conscious young adult and feels at home while camping, hiking, and performing community service. She has earned the Bronze Award in Girl Scouting and a Bronze Award in Venturing, as well as her First Aid, CPR, AED (Automated External Defibrillators), and Wilderness First Aid certifications. Bianca is currently working towards a Gold Award in Venturing.

Bianca actively volunteers at Deering Estate, where she completed Junior Naturalist Training. She also dedicates herself to her school’s monthly newspaper, The Panther, as a Copy Editor on the Leadership Board. Bianca is also a Youth Ambassador for the Military Appreciation Program. She volunteers at the Special Operations Command South, where she assists base employees and records events for their newsletter. This opportunity has deepened her respect for the military and her love of journalism.

Bianca has attended three Journalism conferences throughout her high school career and will be attending the National High School Journalism Convention in Boston this November.

The Pursuer of Excellence - Michael Gutierrez

Hialeah Gardens Senior High School, 11th grade
Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, District 12

Michael has a 5.5 GPA and is a member of all his school’s honor societies. He also participates in tutoring year-round, helping second-language learners in various subject areas. He joined his school’s marching band his freshman year and is now part of the drum line. He has maintained his rigorous class schedule while also attending daily rehearsals. He has also committed himself to instructing his school’s neighboring middle school’s drum line.

In his spare time, Michael designs the website for the City of Hialeah Gardens Park’s baseball players and also maintains their statistics.

Michael hopes to achieve his dream of becoming an anesthesiologist. He aims to attend an ivy league university, preferably Dartmouth or John Hopkins, because he knows that a prestigious institution will prepare him for a career of excellence.

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