Christina Dulal is more than just a brilliant student – she’s an outstanding teacher too. Christina has channeled her passion for science and engineering into college-style lectures and projects for sophomores in the College For Every Student (CFES) program at her school, Miramar High School. “I have a true passion,” said Christina, “for encouraging others to pursue what I believe is the future: STEM.”
CFES engages students in three practices – mentorship, leadership through service, and pathways to college and career – that advance social and educational uplift and pivot students toward success. There are 100 students in the CFES program at Miramar who are led by Elaine Mamby, who guides these students through the process of becoming college and career ready. Elaine saw Christina in action herself: “It was a great way to introduce the students to science – chemistry and physics – and Christina led a lot of fun experiments, like building a bridge out of toothpicks.” STEM is not always offered to students in the hands-on way that Christina presented it, and Elaine explained that Christina’s lectures were so effective because she “actually had them [the students] participating in the experiments.”
Christina is the founder of the STEM club at Miramar, and her assistant principal, Kaila Rivera, asked her to adapt some of the club’s experiments for the CFES students. What Christina did not expect, however, was for Mrs. Rivera to ask Christina to teach the CFES students herself.
Before each of Christina’s monthly lessons, she held a question and answer session for the students about college. She fielded questions about choosing a STEM major and how to find colleges with a strong STEM program, as well as the intricacies of financing college. Christina recounts how eager the CFES students were to discuss these issues, and “more often than not, I would have many students within my CFES groups eager to join STEM club after having sat for my lectures.”
“Anything that’s hands-on they respond really well to,” said Elaine about student reaction to Christina’s lectures. In fact, the CFES program at Miramar is oriented towards this “hands-on” experience that students enjoy and that will prepare them for college and career pursuits. Juniors are mentored in life skills, learning everything from interview preparation to what constitutes a business casual dress code. Elaine has also brought in guest speakers for the group and organized college visits. “This October we’re taking the students to Florida Gulf Coast University,” said Elaine. “For a lot of these kid’s it’s basically their first time leaving Miramar.”
Christina is a recipient of the prestigious Miami Herald Sliver Knight award, which recognizes exceptional students who have applied their passions to serve their communities. Christina’s dedication to STEM education goes beyond her CFES work; she has utilized her computer coding skills for the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale. She will attend Notre Dame University this fall. Reflecting on her experience with CFES, Christina said, “I had the opportunity to grow as a public speaker and learn what it is like to teach, while encouraging others to pursue STEM.”
Christina was a great role model for the CFES students because her success is the result of hard work and dedication. Elaine stressed the importance of Christina’s involvement with CFES because the students see her success and think “there may be a chance for me.”