Karina Villalobos Hernandez

You know the old saying: “Thinking doesn’t overcome fear. Action does.” 

I vividly recall the unsettling fear that began in the depths of my stomach when I was fifteen. As I pondered over all the possible consequences of changing the direction of my life, I became overwhelmed. However, I soon realized that change is inevitable; it is difficult, yet beautiful. 

Determined to overcome my fears, I took a leap of faith and pushed my worries into the abyss. Soon, I was proudly viewing my acceptance into School for Advanced Studies Homestead. This was a momentous moment that marked the beginning of a journey full of personal and academic growth. 

If you can relate to the fear I once had, let me offer you this advice: take action, because it will be the best decision you will ever make. 

School for Advanced Studies is a tight-knit community that cares about everyone for who they are. There is zero judgement, apathy, or indifference here as your peers and teachers will support you every step of the way. You will never be treated as just a “number,” as can sometimes happen at other high schools. Here, you will be deeply cared for and valued as an individual. This became clear the moment I realized I had found a true second family, one with whom I could share my struggles, laugh like there’s no tomorrow, and celebrate all my accomplishments. 

I will not sugarcoat the challenges of SAS, rather I will tell you that it will be a unique growing experience filled with opportunities. There is bound to be days where you will be spending hours doing schoolwork, staying far beyond school hours for college classes, or even semesters where you are completing 7-9 college level courses. However, the day that you receive a scholarship, get accepted into your dream school, and graduate with both your high school diploma and associate degree, you’ll wish you could run back and thank your past self. You’ll reflect on how much you’ve grown as an individual, all because you trusted yourself and remained dedicated, focused, and proud of being a white tiger. 

I will forever cherish the memories I’ve made at SAS with my dear friend group and the incredible teachers who not only passed on their knowledge but also instilled valuable life lessons. Among them, our wonderful counselor, Mr. Morales, who would consistently tell us his notable quote, “You are not special!” Additionally, Colonel Kimmel (HRODSFL), Mrs. Pedroso (B.S.), Ms. Spiner (TRIG), and Ms. Cabarcos (TRUST) for their unwavering support. They are more than mentors to me; they guided me like parents, helping my peers and I distinguish right from wrong. With their inside jokes and exceptional teaching methods, you are destined to succeed!

Upon being awarded the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship and heading off to Florida International University, I can confidently say that SAS has prepared me for the next chapter of my life. Whether it is public speaking, test anxiety, or even stress management, this school will equip you with all the tools necessary to reach your goals. As the class of 2024 would say, take a step forward, embrace this challenge, and grow as an individual because School for Advanced Studies is not just any “normal” school, it truly is the dream factory.  

Karina Villalobos Hernandez
School for Advanced Studies Homestead, Class of 2024
Florida International University, Class of 2026