The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

SLU-Madrid Grants Valentina Araujo a Pathway to Nursing

Originally set on being a fashion designer, this senior developed aspirations to become a nurse
Cavalier+turned+Bilikin%2C+Valentina+Araujo+stands+alongside+her+guide+and+CAP+advisor+Ms.+Sanz+ready+to+embark+on+her+journey+to+SLU-Madrid.+
Gianna Figueroa
Cavalier turned Bilikin, Valentina Araujo stands alongside her guide and CAP advisor Ms. Sanz ready to embark on her journey to SLU-Madrid.

Taking a moment to reconfigure their lives to match their career outlooks, seniors at Coral Gables Senior High persevere towards the future ahead. Traveling across the globe for her studies, senior Valentina Araujo commits to Saint Louis University Madrid Campus where she will be majoring in nursing in hopes of pursuing a career in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nursing. By donating her blood to hospitals, she has already started to make strides.

“I wanted to do medicine in a way, but I never really wanted to be a doctor. I want to be a NICU nurse who takes care of premature babies, since I feel like they saved my life so I would want to do the same thing for other moms,” senior Araujo said.

Seniors Sara Rafael and Valentina Araujo share a warm embrace, showing off their senior crowns as they honor their last first day of school as Cavaliers. (Courtesy of Valentina Araujo)

Araujo discovered her college home as she stumbled upon an email from Instituto de Empresa University and through her grandma who lives in Spain. Initially, living in Europe was not her first choice but after careful research, she realized the benefits outweighed the challenges.

Providing her with the opportunity to study for two years in Spain and Missouri, she would be able to explore life abroad, while finding herself along the way. In early January 2023, Araujo visited her grandparents and was able to attend a college tour of the school.

“I didn’t really want to go to Spain at first. I wanted a new country and Boston seemed better but I did my research. They’re an international school; one in Missouri and the other in Madrid. I thought it was so much better that I could do it in Spain and the U.S., having that international diploma and I can still do my career not just in one country,” senior Araujo said.

Capturing a memory, Valentina Araujo (sixth on the bottom row) poses alongside her Cavaleon family during the annual CAF&DM Field Day.
(Courtesy of Valentina Araujo)

Thanks to the help of Gables’ College Assistance Advisor Ms. Sanz, Araujo was able to apply at Saint Louis free of charge. Naturally, at a Catholic school, she was asked to write an essay in Spanish on her spiritual journey. Providing additional proof of her ability to travel, Araujo sent over her Spanish passport which she gained through her grandparents as a Spanish citizen. Delving deeper into her motivations, she was asked the real reason she applied. Later on, she submitted her transcripts.

To increase her chances of getting into the school, Araujo asked Mr. Madrigal and Ms. Lefebvre to write her recommendation letters. Being a Spanish teacher, Mr. Sanchez was able to explain her qualifications as a student when it came to her Spanish skills. Consequently, Araujo has grown close to Ms. Lefebrvre through frequent class visits. Forming close bonds with both teachers, they knew her best and just how to describe her.

Although she applied for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and qualified, she received more money from being a Spanish citizen through scholarships from Spain. After sending in her application on Nov. 25, 2023, as she laid eyes on her confirmation letter, Araujo was ecstatic to become a future Class of 2028 Bilikin as she received her acceptance on Dec. 9, 2023.

“It was really scary at first just because I’m the first kid to graduate from a U.S. school. I’m Venezuelan and [I] immigrated here. None of my family has experience with college applications, I didn’t know who to ask. I asked Ms. Sanz she helped me a lot but still waiting for decisions and having to fill out everything was nerve-racking. It was just waiting and filling everything out. It was really stressful but at the end of the day it’s really worth it because you can see your potential, how far you can go, and how these four years have paid off,” senior Araujo said.

Keeping her application a secret, she surprised her family with the news at a dinner. Although hesitant about this grand reveal, they realized her yearning to study abroad and supported her to the fullest.

As poised and elegant as a ballerina, Valentina Araujo poses for a photo shoot held by her dance Academy for the Nutcracker. (Courtesy of Valentina Araujo)

Building up her extracurriculars, Araujo made it a point to become involved in Gables since freshman year where she joined more than 10 clubs during online school. However, as she progressed onwards, she dropped some and chose to continue with activities that interested her the most such as the National Spanish Honor Society, Girl’s Varsity Soccer Team and as a highlights writer, eventually transferring into Cavaleon.

“As Valentina’s friend, I feel sad that we will be distant and she will be leaving for college as I am staying in the U.S. for college, but also incredibly proud of her for making a big decision that she knows will make her happy and successful in her career path,” senior Valentina Ponton said.

Outside of school, Araujo has practiced ballet and gymnastics since she was a three-year-old. During her junior year, however, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament and had surgery. As a result, she decided to skip out on this year’s soccer season as well as take a break from both ballet and gymnastics, starting again just a couple of months ago.

During her junior year on the soccer team, the girls can be found celebrating a win of 8-0 on Cavalier turf. (Courtesy of Valentina Araujo)

Enjoying the last few months before she heads off to college, Araujo plans to go on one last tour of the campus during spring break to see the college she has committed to and meet new people from different countries as a college-bound Cavalier. Along with personal growth, she expects to expand her knowledge in the medical field beyond NICU nursing by further educating herself on the human body and anatomy.

“After I finish everything I’m going to go to a school that has the same studying and work to try to be an assistant in NICU Nursing. So I don’t go straight into the field, I just go little by little and start seeing it, but I’d really like to start working right away. That career really calls my attention, and I’d really like to be part of helping out save lives. I’d probably move out of the U.S., go back to Spain, or stay in Missouri, just somewhere that’s not just Florida,” senior Araujo said.

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About the Contributor
Gianna Figueroa, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Gianna Figueroa is a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program at Gables and this is her first year writing for CavsConnect. Looking for more ways to be involved at Gables, she saw CavsConnect as the perfect opportunity to do so, an opportunity to improve her writing skills. Hoping to meet new faces, engage herself in additional extracurriculars, attend more school events and create memories that will last a lifetime, she is looking forward to working for CavsConnect with the rest of the team. All of this while staying on top of her school work and managing her four Advanced Placement classes. She has a deep passion for art from a young age. Drawing, sketching and painting have been her creative outlet and have helped her all her life.  She aspires to pursue something in the arts and to have a job that will make her truly happy. In her free time, you can find her drawing, reading or spending time with her loved ones.
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