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Meet Nazareth's "Whiz Kid" Vanessa Duarte

Vanessa Duarte bubbles with enthusiasm for things that make some people squeamish.

"Whiz Kid" Facts:

  • Name: Vanessa Duarte
  • School: Soon-to-be senior at -- Class of 2012

School Activities  

  • National Honor Society
  • President of the Global Volunteers Club
  • Art Club, History Club,
  • Volunteer at the Special Olympics during her junior year

School Sports

  • NAHS girls soccer team

Accomplishments:

  • Currently ranked 20th out of 425 students in NAHS’ Class of 2012
  • Accepted into the 2011 National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine

Community Activities

  • Has played soccer for several traveling leagues in the region and in other states.

Work Experience

  • Vanessa works at in Upper Nazareth Township -- her family owns the Italian eatery.

"Whiz Kid" Key to Awesomeness:

Vanessa Duarte has an international family. Her father is from Portugal -- where her mother still lives -- and one of her sisters calls Paris, France home -- and those are just a few of Vanessa's relatives who are sprinkled throughout other countries.   

Another fact about Vanessa's family: 10 of them have been diagnosed with some form of cancer.

However, this peppy, positive thinking young lady doesn't let that fact get her down -- it is what drives her to pursue a career in medicine, a decision solidified this summer when she attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine.

“It was an experience I will never forget,” Vanessa said.

Her anatomy teacher, Kyle Davis, nominated her for the program, which holds forums on different topics at about 15 colleges and universities nationwide, Vanessa said. She was one of 350 students from across the globe to attend the 2011 medical forum in Boston.

For 10 days Vanessa lived on campus at Babson College. She went to medical lectures, saw a triage simulation, listened to the stories of HIV/AIDS victims, and watched a live knee replacement. The surgery was enough to make some of the kids think twice about medicine -- but not Vanessa.

“I thought it was neat,” she said.

Vanessa hopes to someday be a surgeon with Doctors Without Borders, but for now, she has plenty of other activities going on as she enters her senior year at Nazareth Area High School.

As president of the Global Volunteers Club at Nazareth High, she and club adviser Jenna Collins, a social studies teacher, are planning a trip for club members to Zambia, Africa, in June 2012. Vanessa said the group will be in the country for 18 days and will assist students at a school.

Michele Duarte, Vanessa’s mother, said her daughter has traveled to many places, whether it was to play soccer, see relatives and, now, pursue her academic interests.

"She’s had some wonderful opportunities,” Michele said. “I tell her to make the most of it.”

After high school, Vanessa plans to attend college -- she's still deciding on which to attend -- and major in genetics and either biochemistry or microbiology. After that, she'll hopefully head to medical school where she will train to become a surgeon.

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