The Student News Site of Flora High School

Flora High School Howler

The Student News Site of Flora High School

Flora High School Howler

The Student News Site of Flora High School

Flora High School Howler

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May 17, 2024

Adriana Tienda FHS ’14

By: Andrea Gonzalez

Within the community of Flora, few people manage to leave town, attend their dream school, pursue their desired major, and find a job in their area of study. Adriana Tienda, a graduate of Flora High School and the University of Illinois, accomplished it all.

Tienda looks back fondly on her years at FHS, missing the intimacy of attending a small school. Because she cheered all four years of high school, she can warmly think back on the sense of community that comes with cheering for a team.

Upon graduating from Flora High School, Tienda pursued a degree in integrative biology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Her inspiration to earn her degree followed a passion for biology, stemming from her Genetics class, taught by Ms. Addie Dehart.

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“I have a lot of people who have helped me get to where I am today, from great high school teachers like Ms. Todd and Ms. Westjohn to my amazing family, especially my mother, and very supportive friends. They have all played big roles in my life and it reminds me of the saying that goes ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’” I know that I have not been a child for a while now, but it took a supportive village to help me get to where I am today!”

Tienda explains her choice in major, “ I went into college thinking that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine as a physician or a physician’s assistant or even as a genetic counselor,” however, soon after entering university, she realized research was her true calling. After taking an introduction to research class, Tienda, “instantly fell in love,” with a lab environment.

After graduating UIUC with a bachelors in integrative biology, she spent some time at home with her family, working as a waitress at her mother’s restaurant. Now, however, she’s living in Tennessee, working as a research assistant at the prestigious Vanderbilt University Medical Center and researching neurodegenerative diseases.

Referring to the aspects of adulthood, Tienda said, “A lot has surprised me and sometimes I even have a hard time believing that I am an actual adult.”

The biggest shock was the equality she encountered in the workplace:  “I work with a lot of people who have their PhDs and they talk to me as their equal, not as someone who is new and only has their B.S.”

Thanks to all of the knowledge she has gained through high school, college, and her experience in working, Tienda is able to offer advice to current students at Flora High School.  

“As long as you are motivated and dedicated to reaching whatever goals you set for yourself, you’ll be good! However, I would like to state that its okay if those goals change throughout the way, that’s just how life is. When I was in high school I thought I was going to be a doctor and during college, I realized that being a physician was not the best fit for me.”

Despite the extreme culture shock of moving from a town with five thousand people to a university with forty thousand, Tienda still managed to overcome adversity and find a fulfilling career.

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