Karen Portillo: Class of 2020


Courtesy of Karen Portillo

Karen Portillo was a very active student on campus, being apart of the Medical Academy, Powderpuff, Yearbook, and The Tribe

Azwad Ahmed, Editor

Karen Portillo is a Santaluces graduate from the class of 2020, and a former staff writer for The Tribe who is now attending the University of South Florida. Karen majors in Cellular and Molecular Biology on the Pre-Med Track.  Portillo explains her choice in the major because she “enjoys science and learning about the process of the body and how it affects us.” Being accepted into the Rising Health Professional Living Learning Community has allowed Karen to mature and make a close group of friends.

During her time at Santaluces, Karen was a part of the Medical Academy, on the Powderpuff team as both a junior and senior, a part of the Yearbook Committee, and a member of The Tribe.

Being a part of The Tribe is what Karen describes as her favorite memory from high school.

“Newspaper truly allowed me to grow as a person with my social and communication skills. The Newspaper team was like a family. We all respected each other and enjoyed sharing stories with each other,” says Portillo.

Being a freshman in college is no easy task; Karen describes a difficult part of the experience as “time management”.

“Although school is my main priority, the amount of work my professors assign is beyond what I would have imagined in high school… it’s a dramatic change, but I’m grateful for teachers like Mrs. Clifton for preparing me with the immense amount of workload they assign,” says Portillo.

Karen describes her college experience as “not what she imagined”.

“As a freshman in college it’s your dream to experience homecoming week, football games, and holiday activities, but with the pandemic, many of the options have been canceled or transformed into online meetings.  Although USF has done a great job at trying to get their students out of their comfort zone, I would prefer experiencing college without a pandemic because it would have made my transition easier,” says Portillo.

In her very limited free time, Karen likes to hang out with friends. Typically going on beach trips, city hangouts, or shopping trips.

Being active on campus comes with tons of experience, Karen offers her advice to those in high school:

  • Take advantage of AICE and AP classes. Do everything you can to earn the AICE Diploma; it will take a load off your back knowing your tuition is paid for.
  • Take Dual Enrollment classes. Save as much money as you can and try to earn your AA.
  • Participate in clubs and volunteer opportunities.
  • Form relationships with people older than you so they can serve as your mentor. My mentor, Vishnu Muppala is a medical student from FAU. He has helped me throughout my high school and college career. Having someone you can talk to and ask for help is always needed.
  • Respect your teachers. They are there to help you. They are the ones who will put in a good word for you when you need letters of recommendation and scholarships.
  •  Starts researching scholarship opportunities immediately. It’s never too early to save money.