What Sets Us Apart
TASIS Dorado is proud to congratulate CRISTINA M. TRÁPAGA HACKER, Class of 2018, who has been selected one out of 6 semi-finalists chosen from 41 candidates in Puerto Rico for the 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholar Program.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program recognizes and honors our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. One male and one female high school senior from each state and territory of the US is selected each year to be honored at a ceremony by the White House in June. The 2018 Scholars will be announced in May. We are also very proud that TASIS Dorado had 5 of our seniors to be chosen in the top 1% in the nation.
Congratulations, Cristina, on this great honor!
José del Río Pantoja '14
Cancer Research at Harvard
JOSÉ "Jochi" DEL RÍO PANTOJA, a graduate of TASIS Dorado in 2014 and one of our latest high flyers, is fervently probing the nanoscale mysteries of biochemistry. After weighing up offers to join several Ph.D. programs, he has settled on enjoying a full scholarship at Harvard University. This exciting research challenge tackles the structural role of proteins that cause cancer.
What sparked your interest in biomedical research?
I don't recall a specific instance that started my journey towards biomedical research, but then I have always been fascinated by STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). My overall experience in STEM can be best described as a positive feedback loop: the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to know. I do believe, however, that my infatuation with the chemistry courses and research experiences at Penn State strongly shaped my interest in biomedical research.
Did you think you might go down that path from the outset of your undergraduate studies?
Not really. I started my undergraduate program at Penn State with the idea of becoming a physician but quickly switched to the Eberly College of Science at Penn State to study my current major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. It's been a gratifying journey that has also introduced me to the joys of teaching. I started out as a learning assistant in general and organic chemistry courses and worked up to a position at Penn State Learning as a study group leader in organic chemistry, teaching 100-200 students.
It sounds like you barely had time for anything else!
Well, I'd say it's been a very fulfilling time indeed, also allowing me the privilege to get involved in Alpha Epsilon Delta's Pre-professional Health Honor society, promoting excellence in healthcare. We host speaker events and create community service opportunities and I've become heavily involved, most lately taking on the role of president. In addition, I've benefitted from the honors classes at the Schreyer Honors College, since being admitted there in my sophomore year.
José del Río Pantoja presentation at NYU Langone Health
What were some of your highlights at TASIS Dorado?
There are three highlights that come to my mind. The first is Annie (Galatzán); she was my number one highlight at TASIS Dorado. Whether it was her everlasting smile, wise advice, warm hugs, generous favors or quick ranting sessions, she always found a way of making me feel welcomed and loved. It was a true privilege to have met her.
Then there's Spirit Week. I absolutely loved Spirit Week. From being able to dress according to the theme of the day to all the activities going on during that week, Spirit week was super fun. It certainly resonates as one of my favorite times at TASIS.
And thirdly, there were the French classes with Madame Denisse (Cintrón) and Calculus class with Miss Wanda (Herrans). I LOVED French class with Madame Denisse (Cintrón). She managed to get me so into the course that I even agreed to sing in French for this one play we did in front of the entire student body and parents. It should be noted that I am not the greatest singer. That just goes to show how great a teacher she is. Also, her class enabled me to me to travel abroad to Nîmes, France as part of the TASIS Exchange Program, which is another huge highlight. As for Calculus class with Miss Wanda, she was the first teacher to introduce me to the importance of developing strong soft skills prior to entering college. She was also a friend and really cared about us developing our ability to succeed at learning.
What do you know now that you wish you knew in High School?
I'd say there are five things that, although I learned them during my undergraduate degree, I wish I had known in high school:
1) Only participate in extracurricular activities that you actually enjoy. It is an absolute mistake to do things just because they are résumé boosters. Professional schools and employers can see through that. Most importantly, you jeopardize your college experience and overall happiness.
2) Dumb questions are only dumb if you don't ask them. You will find people that are great at making you feel inferior for asking a question or too many questions. But don't let that get in the way of you understanding the world, regardless of what field you go into.
3) Actively seek to understand what is really going on in the world you live in. I think you have a moral obligation to have an active role in topics that affect the world. Enroll in courses about race, immigration, sexual/gender orientation, world history, and social sciences. Think differently. Research. There are so many things going on right now that you can make a great impact on a micro and even macro scale. Knowledge is your biggest weapon.
4) Check your privilege. Privilege is unearned. It is an invisible system that we are all part of. It is very important to recognize your own privilege in order to recognize those who don't have the same privileges. Had I known this going into college, I would have done a few things slightly differently. Checking and recognizing your privilege enables you to not only succeed in the most fair and conscious manner but also keeps you aware of those who aren't as lucky as you are, whether it's because of their socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, skin color, gender, or whatever. As a consequence, you grow with society.
5) Be utterly proud of your roots. If you decide to go to a school in the United States, you will be tempted to blend into the culture you find there. In high school, I wish I had been more aware of the importance of being proud of my accent, my traditions, and my people. As you dive into "the real world", you owe it to yourself and your people to show the real world the beauties of what shaped you.
Can you tell us a little about your research experiences to date?
I started with research in my sophomore year at Dr. Amie Boal's lab, studying structural biology. We worked on the mechanism and structure of proteins that use metals to catalyze reactions. That led to my first scientific paper, which is undergoing peer review as we speak. Then last summer, I attended a research program at Dr. Shohei Koide's biochemistry and molecular pharmacology laboratory at NYU Lagone Medical Center, where I managed to map the structural landscape of a protein implicated in pancreatic cancer, along with a synthetic antibody created at the Koide laboratory. I gave an oral presentation of that work at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium and spread the word further with a poster at NYU Lagone Health.
Leadership Alliance National Symposium
We congratulate you on starting your Ph.D. at Harvard. What are your goals?
I really am grateful to be able to dedicate myself to science at Harvard and the fellowship covers all five years of the Ph.D. There will be many courses to attend and a lot of training in research. Hopefully, I'll get to teach too! My research goals will focus on the structure-function of proteins and the development of therapeutic strategies.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in a career in biomedical research?
When it comes to going into biomedical research, there are three things that I believe are very important:
1) Find mentors that want to see you succeed. I wouldn't have accomplished half of the things I have if it weren't for my caring mentors. My research mentor at Penn State, Dr. Boal, introduced me to and guided me through the amazing world of chemistry and structural biology. Mentors like her are the ones that train you and connect you to bigger opportunities.
2) Try to get into a research laboratory as soon as possible. The earlier you do so, the experience you gain will either nurture your natural inclination towards the field or make it easier to switch career aspirations early on, resulting in the strongest possible résumé.
3) Sleep, nutrition, exercise, and fun should be priorities. You'd be surprised how easy it is to forget this one.
Be sure to visit our Alumni Stories page often to see what your fellow alumni are doing. If you know of a fellow alumnus/a doing something interesting that you think our community would want to know about, please contact the Advancement Office at email@example.com.
TICKETS PRE-SALE NOW!
The TASIS Dorado Theater Company production of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL JR. is coming to the PAC on April 13 &14 featuring a cast of over 100 students directed by Mr. Axel Serrant.
TICKETS PRE-SALE: $10/$20/$25 are available at the TASIS Dorado Business Office 787-796-0440 Ext. 262
TASIS Dorado Senior Earns Prestigious Gold Key Award for her Artwork
DANIELA MOLL TOSTE '18 has been awarded the prestigious Gold Key award by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, which are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. Gold Key works are automatically considered for national-level recognition. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, are the nation's longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition initiative for students across the country in grades 7–12.
Daniela, a Senior and board member of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) at TASIS Dorado, was the only student in Puerto Rico to be recognized in the Visual Arts category for her digital artwork titled "Regrets." She has always demonstrated a passion for the arts since her childhood years and plans to pursue a career in Visual Arts. Currently, Daniela has been accepted to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Parsons School of Design & Pratt Institute.
Ms. Lourdes Rosa, TASIS Dorado Art teacher, and NAHS moderator raved about Daniela's unique talent and work ethic.
330,00 submissions were received and are juried by luminaries in the visual and literary arts, some of whom are past award recipients. Panelists look for works that best exemplify originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision. Twenty-seven hundred teens representing all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and American schools abroad received national recognition.
Daniela joins a remarkable group of Gold Key Alumni. Since the program's founding in 1923, the Awards have fostered the creativity and talent of millions of students, including renowned alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their fields, including Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Charles White, Philip Pearlstein, Sylvia Plath, Kay WalkingStick, Luis Jiménez, Ken Burns, Stephen King, Lena Dunham, Richard Linklater, and Zac Posen.
TASIS DORADO MS. MELISSA ARROYO AND NADINE RODRÍGUEZ SELECTED FOR NATIONAL STUDENT LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE
December 11, 2017; Reston, VA — The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has appointed MS. MELISSA ARROYO RIVERA to its Student Leadership Advisory Committee to support the association's efforts to build student engagement, service, leadership, and voice for a two-year term. She is the only National Junior Honor Society Adviser from the U.S. & Puerto Rico to be chosen for this appointment. TASIS Dorado 7th-grader NADINE RODRÍGUEZ was selected as one of two middle-level representatives to the committee. Ms. Melissa and Nadine will meet with the committee on January 24-26, 2018 and will also participate in an educational briefing on Capitol Hill on January 25, 2018.
Ms. Melissa is the National Junior Honor Society TASIS Dorado chapter adviser, and she has fostered and supported the development of several service projects. Some of the projects students have developed during her time as an adviser are: collecting food for communities in need, toy drives, beach cleanups, fostering dogs, MDA of Puerto Rico fundraising activities, among others. She also nominated three students to the NJHS Outstanding Achievement Award last semester, and they won.
As a member of the Student Leadership Advisory Committee, Melissa will support NASSP's goal of engaging student leaders in influencing federal legislation by creating a platform for student voice. The Committee will also select a theme and implement a nationwide project, in keeping with the precedent set by the previous committee's Global Citizenship initiative. Committee members—eight students (one middle-level student selected by the adviser), three activity advisers, and three principals from across the country--were chosen by the NASSP student programs staff and approved by the NASSP Board of Directors for a two-year term that runs through October 2019. A school committee selected NADINE RODRÍGUEZ LÓPEZ as one of the two middle-level representatives.
"I am honored and proud to have been selected by NASSP to the committee. My main objective as the NJHS adviser is to empower members through advocacy, service, and leadership. I want young students to understand that their ideas count and that their positive influence and how they contribute to the community is important. I also want them to know that I will support them every step of the way. This is just a part of what I offer to the Student Leadership Advisory Committee, and I know both Nadine and I will work hard to fulfill our obligations." Melissa Arroyo Rivera
The Student Leadership Advisory Committee renewal is just the latest installment of NASSP's commitment to student leadership. The association, located just outside Washington, DC, is the home of the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council.
"NASSP is proud of its longstanding commitment to developing student leaders and amplifying student voices," said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. "Our nation needs the contributions of every person to help it thrive and progress, so we cannot leave an ounce of human potential undeveloped. With the participation of extraordinary leaders like Melissa, NASSP's efforts will continue to expand so increasing numbers of students across the country can benefit from opportunities to lead, serve, and advocate."
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student's potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council.
NEW DATE ALERT!
ALUMNI HOLIDAY COCKTAIL PARTY 2017
Friday, December 22, 2017 • 6:30 PM
TASIS Dorado PAC
R.S.V.P.: Jovita Casanova firstname.lastname@example.org
Calling all TASIS Dorado Bears! All alumni are invited for a fun night of music, dancing, nibbles and drinks. Meet and reconnect with your fellow Bears, alumni, faculty and friends. See you there!
TASIS Dorado Student Earns Perfect Score on SAT
Congratulations to ERIC CARLSON, class of 2018, for obtaining the highest possible SAT score of 1600. Nationally, while the actual number of students earning the top score varies from year to year, on average, less than 0.2 % of students who take the SAT earn the top score. #SAT #congrats #BearPride
Dear TASIS Dorado Community, Friends, and Family,
As we approach Thanksgiving, have you wondered what there is to be thankful for in the midst of such hardship and suffering in Puerto Rico? No doubt, we are looking forward to a feast of food. Food and water were especially scarce in the first weeks after Hurricane Maria, before supplies started to arrive. One man said to me in the early weeks, "We had a can of corned beef last night. It tasted like churrasco!"
The best school in Puerto Rico
Shortly after the storm, one of our TD moms said to me as we paused during the herculean task of cleaning up the school, "Esto es la mejor escuela en Puerto Rico." I realized she was not talking about TASIS Dorado, but rather about what she saw taking place in her children's lives. She spoke of what they were learning by observing the adults in the community as they shared resources and worked together. Neighbors helping neighbors, neighbors talking to neighbors, neighbors meeting more neighbors in one week than in the previous ten years.
Her kids were also experiencing the difference they personally could make in the lives of others by their acts of kindness and service. Many of our TD families and teachers went to Corozal and Utuado and Vega Baja and other devastated towns to give out food, water, and supplies. More than ever before, our community was moving beyond the "Dorado bubble" to meet the needs of others.
Furthermore, without TV or internet or cell phone service, children were spending time outdoors playing games with friends and riding bikes, instead of sitting on the sofa or immersed in screens. What an unexpectedly positive benefit from such hardship!
The aftermath of Hurricane Maria has been teaching us and our children how to rise up in the face of adversity. I'd bet you never thought you had the inner strength to endure weeks and weeks without electricity. I certainly didn't. Of course, it has been challenging, but as Albert Einstein wrote, "Adversity introduces a man to himself." (The same applies to women!) The actress Mary Tyler Moore said, "You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you." This whole experience has been a roller coaster of emotions and difficulties, but please take time to appreciate the ways that you have been brave in taking care of yourself and others around you.
Best-selling author Sebastian Junger writes in Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (2016), "Humans don't mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary." His book is a fascinating study of how to respond to the "beauty and tragedy of the modern world... that eliminates many situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good." With all our "creature comforts," we have become more isolated and alienated from one another than any society in history and we must choose to re-engage.
Junger cites abundant research that shows how people rise to meet challenges. "Social bonds were reinforced during disasters, and... people overwhelmingly devoted their energies toward the good of the community rather than just themselves." For a time, at least, people rediscover the significance of being human via a crisis.
One comment I have heard repeatedly over the past two months is, "I have learned that happiness does not depend on what I possess or conveniences like power and air conditioning. Happiness depends on things like friendship and family and giving and hope."
Since Hurricane Maria, many of us have realized how much we take things for granted, such as running water, electricity, air conditioning, washing machines, dishwashers, etc., etc. Not only do we take them for granted, we believe we deserve them! How easy it is to feel entitled!
Although Hurricane Maria affected virtually all of us in Puerto Rico, some people were hit much harder than others. Many have been moved to compassion and action by the suffering around them.
Hurricane Maria has offered the opportunity to connect with what the apostle Paul wrote 2,000 years ago: "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need..." (Philippians 4:11-12)
Contentment, Complacency, and Resilience
Make no mistake—contentment is not the same as complacency, conformity, or resignation. A contented person is grounded in hope; a complacent person has essentially given up hope for change. Unlike the resigned, complacent person, a contented person knows that happiness is found not in the accumulation of possessions, but in a life of purpose, service, and the joyful use of one's gifts.
One more thought: In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, ("The Secrets of Resilience," Nov. 10, 2017), Dr. Meg Jay wrote the following: "Does early hardship in life keep children from becoming successful adults? It's an urgent question for parents and educators, who worry that children growing up in difficult circumstances will fail to reach their full potential, or worse, sink into despair and dysfunction." She continues:
Social scientists have shown that these risks are real, but they also have found a surprising pattern among those whose early lives included tough times: Many draw strength from hardship and see their struggle against it as one of the keys to their later success. A wide range of studies over the past few decades has shed light on how such people overcome life's adversities—and how we might all cultivate resilience as well.
Economists predict that it will take 20 years for Puerto Rico to recover from the effects of Hurricane Maria. We have the opportunity now to "cultivate resilience" in ourselves and in our children for the sake of the island's long-term common good, including its infrastructure, culture, and economy. If this island is to rise again as our slogan claims (Puerto Rico se levanta!), it will take the concerted and sacrificial efforts of many citizens over a long period of time. Puerto Rico will need skilled artists and engineers, researchers and teachers, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and builders, as well as wise and incorruptible financial managers and politicians to tackle the problems we share. Investing in renewable energy sources and in leadership training are just two of the many opportunities we must address. Our school's Strategic Plan already focuses on leadership development and the importance of science, technology, engineering, art, and math, but the need now is clearer and more urgent than ever.
So, on this Thanksgiving Day, as you gather with your family and loved ones, you might discover that you are more thankful this year than ever before. Let nothing be taken for granted. Think of washing machines and running water, think of electricity and air conditioning, think of good health, think of neighbors and grandparents and children and bicycles and laughter. Think of life.
And if you feel depleted and exhausted from the grind of weeks without electricity or from continuously giving, I hope you'll be gentle with yourself. We all need a break and the support of others. Take these days to recharge your resilience batteries. As passengers are advised on an airplane, make sure you connect your own oxygen supply first, then attend to the needs of those around you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this rather long message. I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!
With gratitude for you,
Timothy Howard, Ed.D.
Headmaster ║TASIS Dorado
Please click on this link to read more and consider supporting our Teacher & Staff Hurricane Relief Fund. After almost 4 weeks, 84% of Puerto Ricans still do not have electricity and about half do not have running water. Only 2 of our 108 teachers at TASIS Dorado have left the island. We want to help them with crucial needs as they continue to pour themselves out for our students. Thanks for caring! #WeRise #StrongerTogether