Fraga: Always a Cavalier


Bryce Scanlon

Ms. Fraga displays a Chemistry equation on the board for her students.

Sydney Scanlon, Alumni Editor

Kelli Fraga understands what it is like to be a student at Gables, because she once was one. Fraga, an International Baccalaureate (IB), Honors and regular Chemistry teacher, has been a Cavalier since 2002 when she began her freshman year. She has since graduated from Gables, obtained a degree from University of Florida (UF) and has now been teaching at Gables for over three years.

Fraga is the current swimming and water polo coach for the boys and girls teams. However, this is no surprise to those who knew her in high school. She played on the Gables water polo team all four years while concurrently participating as a member of the club team, Miami Waterpolo Foundation. She then attended UF on a partial scholarship from the Minorities Division of UF, Bright Futures and Florida Prepaid. She played on UF’s water polo team, which was on collegiate club level. They played divisional schools from other states.

“Everything was paid for by the school…all the traveling was paid for, the gear was paid for…it was nothing out of my pocket, but they didn’t pay tuition,” Fraga said.

When she was only a junior, Fraga was recruited by the UF water polo coach and christened as the Gables representative for the minorities divison, due to her hispanic background and water polo talent. She was invited on an all-expenses paid visit to UF where she, along with around 100 other representatives from schools all across Florida-including the Maritime and Science Technology Academy and Coral Reef- were able to explore the campus and got a feel for the school. While visiting, she completed and submitted her UF application. By September of her senior year, Fraga had been accepted to UF with a full-ride, which led her to stop her application process.

“It[her college application process] was kind of a done deal from the beginning,” Fraga said.

Similarly to most of her students, Fraga went through the strenuous IB Diploma Programme and received her diploma. The IB track relies on each student to have a sense of independence in getting their work done. She further applies her intrinsic independence to the Gables water polo and swimming teams. While she was in high school, the teams and practices were not structured and most training was conducted singularly or through a club team. They did not have a coach for substantial periods of time so Fraga often times coached her team. Her current students have noticed how her experiences have impacted her teaching style.

“Fraga teaches in a way that a student must be an independent learner, [in a way] she has taught herself as a high school student,” said junior Brianna Leonard.

Fraga’s experience in college, like all college athletes, revolved around sports. She had practice in the water six days a week and dry land practice, lifting weights or running up and down stadiums, three to four days a week, for all four years of college. Her rigorous schedule normally consisted of one to two practices a day, Monday through Saturday. Fraga referred to college athletics as “structured.” Her coach, Katie Larson, had played Division 1 water polo at University of Massachusetts, making her much more experienced than her past coaches. Despite her club experience, which greatly prepared Fraga for college sports, she still considered the transition a major “step up.”

“It was very different from what I was prepared for,” Fraga said.

Throughout her involved years in college, she tried her best balancing her hectic schedule. She received A’s and B’s in all of her college courses and was very social. She increased her social opportunity by not staying in the athlete’s dorm and instead living in Beaty Towers dorm her freshman year. This allowed her to become friends with not just other student athletes but rather an eclectic array of fellow UF attendees.

It may seem impossible to conceive a world where our teachers once lived through parallel experiences of our own, but some of our teachers have led shockingly similar lives to our own. Next time you sit down in a wooden Gables desk, think about how a few years earlier, it may have been occupied by a teenage Fraga listening attentively to Ms. Peterson’s lectures or taking one of Mr. Nelson’s psychology exams.