A first-generation immigrant reflects on his contributions to the local community before graduation

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Victoria Orindas volunteers for Hearts for the Homeless, Orlando Chapter.

August 9, 2016, two days after turning 16e birthday, Victoria Orindas and her family immigrated to the United States from the Republic of Moldova. The next day, she started high school.

“Waking up in a whole new country and starting school on the same day didn’t really give me time to experience culture shock,” says Orindas. “We just kept moving forward and figured out what we needed to do using the resources at our disposal.”

Orindas’ journey took her to UCF, where she studied health sciences and excelled academically at Burnett Honors College. As a dedicated student leader, she forged a community of like-minded peers and developed many service projects to help homeless people. This led to Orindas receiving many honors, including the Order of Pegasus – the highest honor a UCF student can receive. After graduating, she plans to become a doctor to improve access to care for homeless people.

A new start

When she first joined UCF, Orindas began volunteering with the Hearts for the Homeless Orlando Chapter, an international nonprofit organization that offers heart health educational events (e.g., blood pressure monitors electronic) for homeless people.

“It doesn’t escape me that it could have been my family,” she says. “I realize how privileged my sister and I are that my parents have found financial resources available so that our family can live the ‘American Dream’.”

By immigrating to the United States, Orindas’ parents were able to provide their daughters with better educational opportunities to succeed.

“Despite many obstacles as an immigrant, any student, regardless of background, can achieve their goals.

“Despite several obstacles as an immigrant, any student, regardless of background, can achieve their goals at UCF with the resources available,” says Orindas, whose volunteerism led her to be selected as one of the 2022 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Fellows. What is most important to me is giving back to the community by dedicating time to an important cause.

As CGI U Fellows, Orindas and his two teammates will dedicate a year of “commitment to action” by installing sustainable handwashing stations in downtown Orlando and partnering with local organizations who help homeless people. Orindas also helped start the UCF chapter of SALT (Service and Love Together) Outreach, a nonprofit that serves Central Florida’s homeless population and was founded by a UCF alumnus. Eric Camarillo ’16.

Connecting a global community

Orindas thanks one of his many UCF faculty mentors for recommending the CGI U opportunity.

“UCF not only has diversity in its student body, but also diverse role models that motivate the younger generation to do their best; that’s why representation is important,” says Orindas, who also serves as vice president of UCF’s Russian American Student Association (RASA). As an Eastern European country, Moldova shares some similarities with Russian culture.

Orindas learned the importance of relying on his community during difficult times and saw the need to connect with other first-generation immigrant students on campus through RASA.

“Students shouldn’t feel pressured to lose their authentic selves when they join a new place,” she says. “UCF has created a diverse and welcoming environment where each student is encouraged to preserve their culture and traditions while educating others about them.”

Orindas’ dedication to helping others has earned him more than 20 awards and accolades, including WFTV News 6’s “Getting Results” award. The honor highlighted his work during the outbreak of COVID, which launched a project twice-weekly service consisting of distributing care packages to homeless people. She was also a UCF Think 30 Fellowship recipient, Founders Day Honoree, and a member of the UCF President’s Board of Directors.

Plan for the future

As a freshman, Orindas created a general outline of what her next four years at UCF would look like, and as she graduated, she reflects on how the UCF community has helped her. allowed to unleash its potential.

“I didn’t do anything on my own,” says Orindas. “As a LEAD Fellow, I found so many opportunities at UCF that would support my goal of helping others. That’s the beauty of our UCF community.

“I didn’t do anything on my own…I found so many opportunities that would support my goal of helping others. That’s the beauty of our UCF community.

Orindas gained research experience as an undergraduate research fellow at the Mayo Clinic, where she participated in research on the role of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and CHI3L1 gene expression on malignancy brain cancer (glioblastoma). This to research has been presented at several different research conferences and received awards at the 2021 Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) conference and the annual conference on biomedical research for minority scientists.

“By choosing health sciences as my major, I was able to tailor it to suit my interests and structure it to meet the requirements for admission to medical school,” says Orindas.

As a certified practical nurse and medical technician, Orindas’ next step is to become a geriatrician, but only after taking a two-year hiatus to volunteer at Hearts for the Homeless International as a business assistant. internal. She will work with the organization’s Internal Affairs Chair to support National Chapters with the resources needed to better support people experiencing homelessness.

As a future doctor, Orindas hopes to one day open her own mobile clinic to help homeless people.

“It’s surprising how many people who are immigrants are homeless,” says Orindas. “Volunteering even after I graduate from medical school will help me improve treatment and access to health care for those who need it most.”

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