Features — 13 November 2012 — by Adele Ramos

Fascinated with planes since childhood, the teen wants to be an aerospace engineer

St. Louis University sophomore Dorien Villafranco, 19, a Belizean youth studying to be an aerospace engineer, topped this year’s Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) exams for associate degree students in Belize, making him the 2012 Belize Open Scholarship winner.

Villafranco, a 2012 graduate of St. John’s College Junior College, left Belize for the USA on a Jesuit scholarship in August to pursue his major in aerospace engineering, with physics and math as minors. On Tuesday morning, at about 6:30, his mother, Audrey Villafranco, who works at the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), called him to share the good news with him, after hearing it announced on the airwaves.

Villafranco told us that although he had seen his grades online in August, he did not know that he had ranked #1 for Belize.

According to the Ministry of Education, Dorien Villafranco obtained six (6) grade I’s in Caribbean Studies, communication studies, physics unit 1, physics unit 2, pure mathematics unit 1 and pure mathematics unit 2. He also ranked 1st in Belize for each of the six subjects.

Amandala readers will recall that two years ago, in 2010, Villafranco had placed first in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations with 15 grade 1 passes.

This year, Petters Research Institute (PRI) scholarship recipient Juana Teresa Meza, a 2012 graduate of Stann Creek Ecumenical College now enrolled at St. John’s College Junior College, has been named “Most Outstanding Candidate,” having placed first among high school graduates who sat the May-June 2012 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

Meza earned 13 grade I’s at the general proficiency level in biology, chemistry, English A, English B (literature), information technology, mathematics, physics, religious education, social studies, Spanish, physical education and sport, human and social biology, and electrical and electronic technology. She earned 2 grade III’s in Caribbean History and economics.

Juana Meza, who is bilingual, ranked first in both Spanish and science.

Ranking second in the secondary school exams was Kaylyn A. Habet of St. Catherine Academy, who earned 12 grade I’s at the general proficiency level in biology, English A, English B (literature), information technology, integrated science, mathematics, office administration, physics, social studies, Spanish, physical education and sport, and human and social biology; as well as 1 Grade II in chemistry.

Other outstanding students, who will be honored at the 18th Annual CXC National Awards Ceremony, to be held on Thursday, November 22, at the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts in Belize City, include Jacky R. Cheng of Stann Creek Ecumenical College, who will be receiving the subject group award in business studies; Darinka L. Muñoz of Corozal Community College, who will be receiving the subject group award in humanities; and Asher A. Canto of Edward P. Yorke High School, who will be receiving the subject group award in technical vocational studies.

Villafranco said that he may be able to return to Belize for the awards ceremony, since it may coincide with the Thanksgiving break.

At the event, the CXC National Committee of Belize will present several categories of awards to outstanding students in the CSEC Examinations: 260 candidates will each receive a certificate of excellence, 4 will receive subject group awards and 33 will receive individual subject awards, said the Ministry of Education.

The CXC National Committee of Belize will also recognize 4 CAPE candidates with certificates of excellence, 7 with certificates of recognition, and 28 with individual subject awards.

Last year, the ministry issued 395 certificates of excellence, 4 subject group awards and 31 individual subject awards at the secondary school level. It also presented 3 CAPE certificates of excellence, 14 certificates of recognition and 30 individual subject awards at the tertiary level.

The Ministry of Education recognizes the parents, guardians, principals, deans and teachers who gave their invaluable support to the students to help them prepare for the examinations. They also congratulate all the students who have accomplished success in this year’s exams.

Sharing a word of encouragement, Villafranco, who continues to maintain a straight “A” average (4.0) in the US, urges other Belizean youth to maintain a good work ethic, develop good study skills, listen to their lecturers, and keep faith in themselves and their Creator.

Dorien is still setting his sight on higher accomplishments: He told us that after completing three years at the undergraduate level, he plans to immediately pursue higher studies; and in fact, he has already begun his research on where he could pursue graduate studies.

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