Tough time in Miss FIU’s past inspires her present

By: Sandy Zapata/Staff Writer

There aren’t many people who can walk into a room and completely change the mood. Ana Perez does that and so much more.

The 20-year-old journalism major may sound familiar because she is the president of Panther Power at the Biscayne Bay Campus, director of Alternative Spring Break at BBC, Lead Team facilitator and a Campus Life and Orientation peer advisor and peer mentor for a year.

Her platform for Miss FIU is to extend Alternative Breaks to local high schools so that younger students will have a chance to feel its experience through direct service, global learning, self-esteem building and team building, as stated in her pageant application.

One of the main reasons for this platform is because in her junior year of high school she moved away to Arizona and was faced with a tough time in her life, she said.

“I thought I was going to drop out of school,” said Perez.

Her problems inspired her to create a program through which teenagers could learn valuable life skills.

Perez says “I got lucky because I’ve always been strong willed and I had help from a professor that would stay with me and talk to me.”

“I started thinking to myself what if there was something in school to help kids through rough times then a lot more of them would stay in school.”

Perez moved back to Miami and with no time wasted took her first step to what would become a plethora of social involvement at FIU.

Bronwen Bares, assistant director for the Center of Leadership and Service and full time staff member of the Women’s Center at the Modesto Maidique Campus, was Perez’s Freshman Experience teacher who promoted the Academy of Leaders in her class, which sparked Perez’s interest.

“Ever since I met [Perez] she really stood out as someone who had a lot of potential,” Bares said.

It was after this weekend retreat that Perez says, that Sunday when she came back home she was super excited and told her mom she wanted to join everything on campus.

“I don’t think I would be who I really am without the Academy of Leaders,” Perez said.

Now holding the crown and an open window of opportunities to network, Perez plans on building up her platform for a high school program equivalent to aB to influence and mentor younger students for a brighter future.

Perez’s future goals are to attend the Peace Corps or Teach for America, and with graduation scheduled for Fall 2011, that future is closely at hand.

“I was put here to make a difference in peoples’ lives,” Perez said.

1 Comment on "Tough time in Miss FIU’s past inspires her present"

  1. Beverly Dalrymple | February 16, 2011 at 4:06 PM | Reply

    Ana – we are all so proud of you! – Beverly Dalrymple

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