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Making the Most Is Her Mantra

Young missionary graduated with honors at Homestead Campus

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Anna Schinella

After spending two years as a water born missionary to residents of one of the poorest nations in the world, Anna Schinella was determined to take advantage of opportunities they did not have. Now the home-schooled Florida Keys native — the first in her family to seek a higher education — recently graduated from Miami-Dade Community College's Homestead Campus with a 4.0 grade point average and the confidence she can achieve anything she attempts.

Anna is the oldest of seven children — all of whom were home-schooled. When a subject became too complex for her mother to teach, such as higher-level mathematics, Anna used the books and teaching guides and taught herself. She passed all state high school equivalency tests with flying colors at the age of 17. By that time, her father completed his home built "ark" and the family set sail for two years, bringing medical aid, food, clothing and building supplies to needy individuals in Haiti.

"It was a mind expanding experience to meet the amazing people over there," Anna recalled. "They helped me to be determined to try my best and to take full advantage of everything I can. I have the ability so I am going to use it. I have the opportunity, so I am going to take it," she said.

Upon returning to dry land, Anna moved in to aid her ailing grandmother on Campbell Drive, not far from the Homestead Campus. She enrolled in honors classes, joined Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, the Homestead Art Club and took part in various art shows, including the League of Innovations. She earned several scholarships, qualified for financial aid and worked at a day care to make ends meet.

"Any time I needed something, it seemed to come through," Anna said. Her fellow students pay tribute to her willingness to help everyone and take part in school activities. Art professor Peggy Nania calls her a "golden heart." "We had some refreshments left over after an exhibition," she recalled. "Anna dropped everything to deliver the food to a needy family close by. She is hard working, diligent and disciplined and she knows how to make the most of everything," Nania said, adding that Anna is an "amazing artist."

"My father is a very creative person," Anna said. "Art always has been something I've wanted to do. I love it all. I started with watercolors, moved to drawing, then acrylics and oils. I'm looking forward to getting into sculpture." But additional schooling will wait as Anna takes some well-deserved time off. The 23-year-old recently moved into a "fixer-upper" house in Princeton with her new husband, musician Asa Viklund. Their parents are best friends and the couple has been close since meeting at a home-school support group when they were only eight years old.

To learn more about Miami Dade College, visit www.mdc.edu.