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Victoria Orindas, a biomedical sciences major and BHC Scholar, has been active as a LEAD Scholar peer mentor and with Volunteer UCF, and has conducted research related to treatment of prostate and breast cancer. When she graduates, Victoria plans to attend UCF’s medical school and use her linguistic skills to create meaningful connections with her patients as a future dermatologist.

What formative experiences have you had at UCF? What did you learn from them - how do you think they helped you get where you are today?

Being a UCF Knight has opened many doors for me. In my freshman year, I had the honor to be selected as the officer for VUCF Food Share. It was my very first leadership position at UCF, and for an incoming student it was overwhelming. However, it was a challenge to grow and discover my strengths and weaknesses.

As a LEAD Scholar, I was able to land a peer mentor position in Fall 2019. Because of this experience, I discovered my passion, which is working with people. As a peer mentor, I was able to gain the courage and the necessary leadership skills to be later selected as the vice president of Hearts for the Homeless. I am also volunteering with a few other organizations, such as Knights Exemplar, Knights Pantry, Habitat for Humanity, and ORMC.

As much as I am passionate about my community and its well-being, I am also currently involved in research. I am a research assistant in Dr. [Ratna] Chakrabarti’s laboratory, which focuses on understanding the molecular mechanism of regulation of gene expression in prostate and breast cancer, specifically components of signaling pathways that are involved in cell cycle regulation, progression of metastasis, and development of drug resistance.

What are your long-term goal/future plans? What are you doing after graduation? How did the BHC help you achieve these goals? 

After graduating from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences and a minor in Spanish, I plan to attend the University of Central Florida medical school and get closer to my goal in becoming a licensed physician [as a dermatologist]. As a doctor I hope to not only treat my patients, but also connect with them. Considering that America has a diverse population, I hope to use my linguistic skills to create more meaningful connections. I am fluent in Romanian, Russian, and French. Due to the increasing number of Spanish-speakers, I am learning Spanish so I could better assist my future patients without having a language barrier.

As a Burnett Honors Scholar, I learned the importance of teamwork and investing my time into people. The Burnett Honors College created an environment that pushes its students to improve and to develop the courage and skills to find solutions to existing problems.

What advice do you have for other students who may want to follow a similar path, helping their community?

Do not overthink every single step. On your journey you will meet people who will help and guide you and some problems will simply vanish. As cliché as it sounds, do not give up and always do acts of kindness. Be the change you want to see in your community, and while doing it do not lose track of the reason you started.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Reading is my favorite hobby. I enjoy reading self-help books. There is nothing more important than working on yourself and building the necessary discipline to not let emotion overtake logic. My favorite book is Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. After reading this book, I had a different outlook on most day-to-day situations. I stopped dwelling on the past or on things I cannot change. I chose to be more empathetic and understanding of others since there is no way for me to know what they are going through. I urge all of you to be the one who brightens someone else’s day.