Rising Stars of Boca Raton

To read the full story on Boca’s brightest young minds, subscribe to magazine and check out the February 2017 issue. 


Jason Kristol, 18, Spanish River High School

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In His Own Words

The best thing I can say is this: I look forward to getting back to the lab and continuing my research.

Role Model

Anyone in the field of genetics. I’m fascinated by genetic modification and in bioluminescence. Imagine a world where street lights are replaced by organisms that glow in the dark naturally, instead of relying on electricity.

Best High School Memory

Time in the biotech lab; it was a lot of fun.

Advice for Freshman

Don’t work too hard and try not to procrastinate.

Rebecca Zerbo, 17, Senior at Olympic Heights High School

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In Her Own Words

With my non-profit, Positive Pocket Inc., I seek to empower, motivate and inspire kids and adults who suffer from the negative effects of bullying by providing an anchor to improve self esteem and self-confidence.  Through education, interactive hands-on activities, my Positive Pocket Cards work to affect a positive change in the world, reminding you that you matter and you make a difference.

Role Model

My mom, Laura Zerbo. She is always there for me and taught me strength and confidence.

Advice for Freshman

Don’t procrastinate and get involved in as many activities as you can. That’s where you’ll find your friends.

Mark Heatzig, 18, Senior at St. Andrews High School 

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In His Own Words 

I hope to continue to develop my entrepreneurial spirit through college and pursue a venture I am passionate about. I am a strong believer that passion leads to success. So many exciting opportunities lie ahead of me, and with a great deal of hard work, I hope to make a meaningful impact in the world.

Favorite Quote 

Believe in the why of what you’re doing, and not the what. – Brian K. Niles

 Role Model

Brian K. Niles got me excited about business and taught me that you must work harder than anyone else to best your competition. Work ethic is everything.

Advice for Freshman

Whatever you’re interested in, get involved early and follow whatever excites you. You can make it happen. 

Pop Culture Moment

Heatzig is a big fan of CNBC’s Shark Tank and as part of the Yale University Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Summer Program, had the opportunity to meet Shark Tank contestant, Benjamin Stern, CEO of Nohbo (No Hair Bottles), also a high school student.

“It was so cool to meet kids from around the world who are interested in starting a business to help do good in their country,” says Heatzig.

Lila Mish, 17, American Heritage School

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Favorite Quote

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”-Winston Churchill

Role Model

My middle school science teacher, Dr. Brian Ramos. I came to middle school with no science background and he sparked my passion for science, especially neuroscience and the brain. “It’s so cool to learn how the brain functions.”

Mish also admires Tesla and SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, for his ingenuity. “He created so many companies with the hopes of doing good for the world.”

Advice for Freshman 

Try to do things you want to pursue, and not for what looks good on a resume. In the end, it’s what you get from your experiences and what you really love that matters. Explore as many things as possible to figure out what you love.

Nadia Sial, 17, FAU High School

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In Her Own Words

My goals include graduating with my Bachelor’s degree next year and applying to medical school. I hope to become a practicing physician so that I can pursue my passions for science and helping others.

Favorite Quote

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

Role Model

My dad, Khalid Sial for his generosity and selflessness and my older brother, Omar, who earned his Master’s and Ph.D. from Texas AM University. He inspired me and introduced me to neuroscience and encouraged me to pursue what I like.

I also admire Dr. Sanjay Gupta, for his work and success in the medical field, specifically neurosurgery

Advice for Freshman

Stay focused and manage your time. Time management was key for me to do well in school. Make a to-do list at the beginning of each week and plan out your projects, essays, exams, etc. I keep myself on track and cross off finished tasks to keep myself motivated.

Martha Hagan, 17, Boca Raton High School

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In Her Own Words

I grew up privileged and blessed to have a family, three meals, clothes and an education. So many people don’t have these opportunities. I want to give back and help others.

Role Model 

I admire former vice president Al Gore who has done so much for environmental legislation as well as my Key Club advisors, Tiffany O’Bryan, and Donna Parton.   They’re both giving and caring people who have allowed me to grow and to assume a leadership role.

In Her Own Words 

I want to study environmental science and public policy undergraduate and then attend law school. My dream job is to become an environmental attorney and then perhaps a legislator. I also want to continue community service when I’m older and start a nonprofit to help underprivileged schools.

Favorite Quote

 Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Advice for Freshman

Take advantage of all opportunities high school presents. If you have even the smallest interest, get involved. Try everything until you find something you love.