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They hold the future in their hands

Published May 2, 2007


Parents: Marjorie Mangus of St. Petersburg and Jason Shiver of Valrico.

Plans: College undecided; visual arts or marine biology.

Activities: Volunteered for National Honor Society, Art Club and work at the Italian Way.

One thing I would change about the world ... The emphasis on what makes a person successful in the world and the money-oriented mentality that afflicts society.

I attribute my success to ... Waking up, going to school and taking everything one day at a time. Mostly the little things, like my sister saying she's proud of me or the one class per semester that's actually enjoyable. Mainly my friends that made school a tolerable place to be: Clint, Melody, Melanie, Ronnie, Justina, Chris, Catie, Cory and Cody.

By the time I'm 30 ... I hope to have finally made up my mind about what I want to do with the rest of my life, graduate college, travel to Spain, Italy and Ireland, and maybe begin to start a family.

About my high school experience ... My high school experience has been no different than anyone else's. I go to school, get homework, try not to fall asleep, procrastinate on huge projects, repeat. I can't pinpoint a proudest moment in high school. The fact that I was able to pass physics is probably among the most notable accomplishments. The things I'll miss most about school are the people, the snack breaks and being a Spartan.

Parents: Betty Jill and Tim Stark of Pinellas Park.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; biology.

Activities: Big Brothers Big Sisters; Operation Quiet Comfort.

One thing I would change about the world ... I would have everyone recognize the love that's inside of them, and then use it.

By the time I turn 30 ... I would like to accomplish enough by the time I'm 30 to keep me positive and optimistic for the years after that.

In the first of a three-part series, meet the teens with the goals, ambition and intelligence to shape the world of tomorrow.

Parents: Tom French and Linda Rogowski, both of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Macalester College, St. Paul, Minn.; double major in economics and political science.

Activities: Volunteers several hours a week at the Ronald McDonald House.

One thing I would change about the world ... I would make it possible for every child to be exposed to Shakespeare, Monet and Bach. When you've seen those things, you realize there are no limits to what you can do.

About my high school experience ... I have been surrounded by an astonishing number of talented artists. That kind of creative atmosphere just pushes you to go even further than you thought you could. If I will miss one thing, it will be getting to see all the incredible things my classmates will accomplish.

Parents: Esther Lora and Ramon Lora, both of Pinellas Park.

Plans: University of Central Florida, Orlando; undeclared but leaning toward computer software engineering.

Activities: Volunteer for Adopt A Family during Christmas and fundraising for the Relay for Life done by the American Cancer Society.

One thing I would change about the world ... War would no longer be a necessary option to get groups to cooperate with one another.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... No doubt my mother. She's always telling me about how much she wishes she went through college and doesn't let me forget how much school will help me.

Parents: Roger and Kelli Crabb of St. Petersburg.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; biology or pre-health professional.

Activities: Volunteers at St. Anthony's Hospital and for local road races and triathlons. Also is a Eucharistic minister at Holy Family Catholic Church.

One thing I would change about the world ... I have been lucky enough to have a good education. I think a key to solving many of the problems in our world is to make a quality education available to everyone.

I attribute my success to ... As a distance runner, I have learned that natural ability only gets you so far. Hard work is the source of real success, not only in athletics, but in academics and in life. I have worked hard to succeed in school and in sports. I also attribute my success to the support of my parents, who have always helped and encouraged me in school and who have cheered me on at every cross country and track meet.

Before I turn 30 ... I would like to finish my education and pursue a career in the medical field. I would also like to run the Boston Marathon.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My running coach, Joe Burgasser, has had a huge impact on my life. When I met Coach Burgasser, I was coming off a frustrating track season and had been injured. I thought about quitting competitive running. Joe not only helped structure a training schedule, he has motivated me to do my best and to have confidence in my abilities ... I know that the lessons he has taught me will serve me well, and I hope that I can make him proud of me.

Parents: Richard and Lynn Vlaming of St. Petersburg.

Plans: University of South Florida, Tampa; preveterinary medicine.

Activities: Volunteer at the Friends of Strays Animal Shelter and worked at North Shore Pool as a lifeguard and swim instructor.

One thing I would change about the world ... Life is a cycle of tragedy that needs to accompany happiness in order to thrive. Therefore, I would not change anything about the world. I accept the bad along with the good with unfailing faith in destiny.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... It is impossible to name only one person who has made a major impact in my life; from close friends, to acquaintances, to my family members, everyone has left some sort of mark on who I am today. I will say, though, that because of the unrelenting support of my parents, I have been given many opportunities.

About my high school experience ... Everyone says that high school goes by so quickly that you almost forget it. I don't think that this is true. I remember the countless hours I spent studying, working and practicing for competitions in academics as well as athletics. I feel that these hours have been spent well, and I am satisfied, therefore, I will leave no regrets behind. My proudest moments are all the small moments in which I do my best.

What my classmates don't know about me ... Because of my petite stature, most people at school do not know that I spend most of my time at home doing mechanic work on cars.

Salutatorian Derek P. Nieber, 18

Parents: John Fernandez and Cheri Fernandez, both of St. Petersburg.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; major undecided.

Activities: Tutored at Osceola Middle School and worked at Publix.

One thing I would change about the world ... Nothing.

I attribute my success to ... The help of my friends and family.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My father.

My favorite teacher was ... Mrs. Camp, because she challenged me to do better as well as inspired me to be more involved.

Parents: Son D. Pham and Anh Linh Tran of St. Petersburg.

Plans: University of South Florida, St. Petersburg; major undecided.

Activities: National Honor Society and worked at the Chick-fil-A on Tyrone Boulevard.

I attribute my success to ... My parents, who have always pushed me to the top, my friends who I have met along the way, my current teachers (Mrs. Greenberg, Mrs. Gamble, Mrs. Yee and Mrs. Walters) and Dixie's Elite and Chic.

About my high school experience ... My senior year was where everything started for me. In this final year, I joined NHS, Dixie's Elite and Chic, the academic team and Musical Theater. I am glad that I have met all the people in these clubs. However, I am full of sorrow because we now have to part. I will miss them, for they brought light into my lonely life. Thank you all.

Parents: Bryan and Wendy Huntington of Largo.

Plans: International Academy of Design and Technology, Tampa; graphic design.

Activities: Volunteered at the ACKids Campus preschool, and worked as a cashier at Michaels craft store.

One thing I would change about the world ... If I could change one thing about the world, it would be to remove the hatred, ignorance and prejudice. I believe these three concepts are the major cause of most of the suffering in the world. Though I doubt we will ever be able to achieve a completely perfect, peaceful world, I believe with some work we could certainly come close.

I attribute my success to ... Most of my "success" throughout high school has come from simply doing what I've been told. I've done nothing more than what I've been asked of by my teachers, and have made every attempt to keep my grades up. I've always had the goals of getting good grades, but I've never really strived to be valedictorian. The very thought still boggles me in a way.

Before I turn 30 ... I would like to have a career in the theme park industry, own a home and travel to a foreign country.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... Madonna. I look up to her as a role model; someone to admire. She's done so much for this world around us, much of it going unnoticed. I believe in the messages she conveys about humanity, such that we are all human, and we are all in this together, and we need to learn to love one another. She's helped me through tough times throughout the past few years, and I'm thankful to have learned so much from her.

Parents: Dr. Matthew and Nanda Nieber of St. Petersburg.

Plans: University of Florida Honors College, Gainesville; biochemistry and molecular biology.

Activities: Volunteered at All Children's and Edward White hospitals, 300 plus hours. Tutored and served as a mentor for incoming freshmen.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My older brother has had a large impact on where I will go to school, how my hobbies and personality have been molded, and how I act. He is two years older than me and has always been there as a role model on what and how to do things.

About my high school experience ... I will miss most the memories of my teenage years where my friends and I would paint our entire bodies in blue and gold (Boca Ciega colors) and cheer our football team, enduring fatigue, extensive effort and defeat at all cost to support our school as a single entity. My greatest challenge was, and still is, balancing all of my school work with my leisure pursuits while striving for academic and social achievement.

Parents: Dr. Anil and Poonam Raiker of Largo.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; pre-med, majoring in nutritional science or health studies.

Activities: Volunteered at the VA Medical Center at Bay Pines, 308 hours. Worked at Forever 21.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... Actually, a couple of people have made an impact on my life, and they are my best friends. They keep me on track with my goals, instill positivity in me, provide moral and social support as well as honest unconditional love. They bring out the best in myself. Strong relationships make life fulfilling, and I have the good fortune of having them.

Before turning 30 ... I would like to be a successful doctor, be married and have at least one kid.

About my high school experience ... Honestly, I didn't have as good of a high school experience as I was hoping for. The only thing I'll probably miss is the minimal work load, but I think I'll like the challenges of college.

My favorite teacher was ... Mrs. Vasquez (Advanced Placement biology) - She is such a kind-hearted person and makes learning bio seem like common sense. Miss Lasher (AP English literature) - She is the one teacher that pushed me to work at a college level and increased my reading and writing skills immensely.

[Last modified May 1, 2007, 20:30:39]

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