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Meet Rafaela


Rafaela Canevari


Year: Fall 2010
Hometown: Aracatuba, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Major: International Affairs

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Rafaela's E-Journal Archives:

April 22, 2009
April 20, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 30, 2009
March 11, 2009
February 5, 2009


One Starry Night!

April 22, 2009

It all became alive in one evening. At 6 p.m. on Friday, April 17, the Alfond Sports Center transformed into a beautiful reception, adorned with Spanish-like decorations, tables with yellow linen, fine silverware, and much more.

I walked into that building pondering how tired I would feel after doing my required six-hour volunteer shift from 6 p.m.-12 a.m. The two days prior to the event were very hectic (projects due, exams approaching) and I didn’t get much sleep. I had no idea of the journey I was walking into.

The Alfond Sports Center gym completed transformed...

The Alfond Sports Center gym completed transformed...

The impeccable decorations amazed me. I loved the adorned tables, the carefully designed centerpieces, the stage, the welcoming committee, the uniformity of the volunteers’ red t-shirts, and the layout of the whole reception. I even started scanning the room for ideas for my upcoming wedding reception (once you start planning a wedding you start noticing details you never knew existed!).

The fiesta!

The fiesta!

But that was just the beginning. Soon enough, our guests arrived. Traditional figures of the Winter Park city, leaders of Rollins College, business men and women, alumni and their spouses flooded the newly transformed gym. It was a showcase of beautiful dresses and attire. Old friends were reuniting, and new friendships were being formed. From young to old, all together were gathered with one purpose: to offer support to the Hamilton Holt School and contribute financially to the hundreds of scholarships offered each year.

“I never fully understood the Hamilton Holt School’s reputation in this city. We come to class and we leave, but we don’t see all the backstage work being done to make it happen,” said Adina Coomber, scholarship recipient of the Hamilton Holt School.

Yes, Adina is right. It wasn’t until this event that I discovered the Holt School’s reputation in our community. We are valued by many. In fact, local support is what enables me and hundreds of other students to be able to pay for classes and achieve our goals. Financial support from philanthropist Harriett Lake, from corporations such as Disney and SeaWorld, from businesses such as Arthur’s Catering and the Samba Room: This is what makes my dreams possible-makes our dreams possible.

We all have a responsibility to carry the reputation of the Holt School forward. Our community believes in us. They do appreciate all the sacrifices we all have to make in order to achieve our education. We are not alone in this journey.

Starry, Starry Night made me realize I am part of a bigger picture. It made me grateful for the support of every sponsor, grateful for the wonderful team of people at the Hamilton Holt School who work full time to make it all possible.

Yes, I was physically tired at the end of the night. But between helping, laughing, eating, dancing, moving vases of plants around (those who volunteered at the event know what I am talking about!), I discovered who I was: a Hamilton Holt School student.

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April 20, 2009

As students, we are desperate for “resources” – that magic word that improves our college life and enables us to achieve better grades.

It is good to be familiar with the resources available…that way, when a situation arises, we know exactly what to do.

I know I already talked about the Olin Library…but I can’t help but mention it again. It encompasses so much! And besides, because of work and school, the library is practically my second home (just wait, it might also become your second home right before finals).

Let me describe to you in more detail that first day I walked up those steps:

Unfamiliar faces, strange building, books arranged in so many bookshelves it makes you feel as if you are in a labyrinth. One floor, two floors, three floors, four floors. A pillow room. A quiet study area. A Help Desk (which takes care of any laptop issues for free). Unlimited access to computers. Unlimited access to printing. Access to a librarian to help me with my research. Top software programs installed in the Multimedia Lab (Photoshop, Premier, etc.). A 24-hour computer lab. So many magazines and different newspapers. New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist. Group study areas. Free laptop and digital camera rental. What more could a college student want!?

I left that library excited about my life at Rollins. Little by little, I found other resources: the TJ Tutoring Center (available to all students on a variety of subjects), the computer labs scattered through the campus (Bush, Cornell, the Library), career advising, and much more.

Do you know you can use the interlibrary loan to check out books not available here on campus? Do you know you can check out books at the UCF Library using your Rollins R-Card? Do you know you have access to the 24-hour lab (which is literally open 24 hours a day during the week)?

Let’s do this – feel free to post a comment about your favorite resource here on campus. Out of all things the College offers, which is your favorite? There are hundreds of other resources I haven’t mentioned. Just tell us which you prefer!

And finally, this is my suggestion to you: Get to know everything the college offers. Ask people, go to the Olin Library, talk to you advisor. Take full advantage of the opportunities here. After all, we won’t be students for long!

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Seven Pounds

April 4, 2009

Being a full-time college student is not easy. I know. Job, family, school, exams…

At some point in the semester, you might have three exams in the same week, many papers to write, internship applications to fill out, scholarship requirements to meet, family responsibilities to attend to, volunteering events to participate in…

Walking around campus, all you think about is the list of to-do things in your planner, the dinner meal you haven’t prepared and your homework due the next day. Some of us create a “mobile office,” taking advantage of every free minute (even those spent walking from one class to another) to attend to errands and get things done (maybe even call Progress Energy to make that payment due the next day – which you completely forgot).

Yes, life can be hectic.

The everyday life of a college student is full of all types of assignments, needs, and tasks to accomplish. We all are aware of finals week, when our minds work without rest…studying and preparing for that last mountaintop of the semester…letting stress become a daily sensation.

Considering the amount of things we must accomplish, we have the right to think only about our needs and our plans…


That’s what I thought…until this weekend. Sitting on the couch while gazing at the wall after watching Seven Pounds for the first time, I wondered about life…about people. People. Even though we forget sometimes, we are all “people.” We each have our own struggles and life demands. We might think “ours” are greater than “theirs,” but not really. If we all thought we had the right (due to life circumstances) to think only of our individual needs, the world would not be in good shape.

Early in the movie the audience meets Ezra, the blind man who worked answering phones for a company. It made me think…we just don’t know the issues the person on the other side of the line is dealing with. Whether we want to accept it or not, our perspective on life is not absolute. We have a tendency to look at the world only through our own perspective.

We have to conscientiously stop being self-centered. I have to stop being self-centered.

And then I thought…why not apply that on campus?


Maybe by holding the library door for that student walking behind me, carrying a mountain of books. Or by not being ill-mannered to the woman at the Cornell Courtyard café, who’s taking a little longer to place my order and causing me to be late to class. By not ignoring the cleaning crew around campus (after all, it only takes two seconds to say “good morning”!)

Life is not just about us. That’s all. We are only part of it.

Yes, college life is crazy. And I admit it. I am guilty as charged. It is easy to get caught up with our responsibilities. But let’s not let our circumstances drown us in a place of social isolation. A smile can make a difference!

Can you imagine if everyone around us acted that way?

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Hidden Places

March 30, 2009

One thing I love about Winter Park is that you can explore. No, I don’t mean finding tangible treasures left behind by a great adventurer. I mean natural beauty.

I have to confess I am a little biased: I love lakes. Serenity, tranquility and peace of mind are all synonyms of this wonderful God-creation. The Rollins Community is surrounded by lakes. Not only just lakes…lakes with trees. Big trees. Not just any trees…the big, gorgeous dominant kind of trees. Winter Park is truly one of a kind.

Sometimes in the middle of exams, I just need a time to refresh my mind. I need a “me” time, even if only for 15 minutes. That’s when I explore. I try to find different spots that capture my eyes. The lake by the Olin Library is my favorite (you can look through the window in the Late Night Lab while studying and be engulfed by its waters). Our chapel is not far behind. The man-made creation is grandeur in so many aspects! Have you seen the chapel at night?! When all the lights are gone, except the very top!? Breathtaking.

How about the flowers during February?! At the Cornell Social Science building, the breezeway becomes framed with hundreds of pink flowers. The flowers are everywhere on campus. I love walking through Orlando Hall just to find a tapestry of fallen flowers by the wooden chairs and tables.

This week, something amazing happened. I found another secret spot.

With midterms on my mind, l drove around Winter Park to find a spot to relax. I found a lake not far from the parking garage. Grabbing a pillow and a beach towel from my car I started walking, trying to find a place to rest for a few minutes. There was only one problem: construction. They were remodeling parts of the grass surrounding the lake. Because it was Saturday, no one was there, only the materials they were using – big black tubes, black plastic, and tools all around. I found a spot far from any materials, under a tree, with a nice view from the lake. Setting the towel on the ground, I realized how that place was a metaphor of my life: there were a lot of things going on, a lot of construction…but in the middle of it all I could still find a place to rest. Lying on the ground with my eyes closed, I could hear the birds and the wind. Sporadically, I heard kids laughing in the background, the sound coming from the houses close by. Then I realized I was actually in the middle of a soft “leaf-shower.” The wind was causing leaves to fall, all around, in such a way it seemed to be raining leaves. The thirty minutes I spent in that place renewed my energy completely. It is good to relax and pray during the busyness of life. It gives you a chance to stop and appreciate life and all God has created.

What could be better?

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March 11, 2009

“Am I going to fit in?!” That is the question that haunts most students searching for a college to attend. To be able to fit in is to find common ground with those around you. To find something similar: background, stage of life, age, social status, gender, values, current status of employment…

I was unsure whether or not I was going to connect with anyone at Rollins. Most people automatically describe the demographic of the Rollins Community stereotypically as “rich, white, and young.” Would I be able to fit in? I am in a completely different stage of life! I work, I have responsibilities, bills, ministry…would I be able to relate to anyone on campus?

Well…I was wrong. The night school at Rollins is a center for diversity. I have proven that myself. My classmates include: the fresh-out-of-high-school freshman, the home-schooled sophomore, the newly married senior, the full-time worker coming back for a second degree, the mother of college kids, the teacher…can you believe I even had class with my boss from IT?!

At night, Rollins College changes. The community around Winter Park takes over. I love to see the man pursuing a second degree working together with the junior from his Holocaust Class for a project due that week. Or the mom, who actually brings her little 4 month-old to the library while she finishes writing the review for her America and the World class. You see international students talking about the politics of their own country, stuttering for words. Black, white, young, and old…all come together for one thing: education.

Holt Avenue as Night Students Arrive

Holt Avenue as Night Students Arrive

You can tie the diversity of the Hamilton Holt population with the different type of cars we see on campus. You see every color, every shape, every model. If you ever check out Holt Avenue around 6:45 p.m., you will see what I mean. Sometimes it feels like a dance…the movements of cars coming and going. While one man leaves his parking spot, the woman behind him gracefully parks in the newly opened space. You see people parallel parking at the same time…in unison. Suddenly, they all come out of their cars, with books and paper, going off in different directions.

It is hard to try to pinpoint the one group dominating the night school. The one thing in common is the desire to learn. The school is so diverse, you are bound to find common ground with someone else. Diversity is always inviting, isn’t it!? That is one of the things I loved the most about the community college I transferred from and is one of my most favorite things here at the Hamilton Holt School.

So don’t worry. You will fit in. At the most, you will start a new subgroup that people can relate to. And who knows? …Maybe you will have class with people that work in your bank, or with your best friend from the high school you just graduated from. You just never know.

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Discovering Rollins

February 5, 2009

What was my most memorable semester? Fall 2008.

I will never forget that first day. Newly transferred from Valencia, I step onto the Rollins campus for the first time. I look at the architecture, in complete awe. I have never seen anything like this—old traditional buildings, holding more than a hundred years of history.

I wonder what it was like in the early days. The first students. The first classrooms. And here I am, standing in the same room.

The trees…I love the trees! Huge, wide, green! Everywhere…providing shade, security. As I walk to the Olin Library the first time, I see a glimpse of water in the background. A lake!

I can’t wait to explore. As I get closer, I see one of the most beautiful scenes of my life. The lake, the deck, the trees…a live painting. I sit on the soft grass, and I gaze at the lake for what seems like forever. The sun is shining…a shy sun, perfect for the moment. I can’t believe it. I am a Rollins student.

I can’t wait for my Olin Library orientation. Libraries have always been my favorite places. I am amazed as the librarian takes us to each floor. Four floors, thousands of books, many resources. This is paradise for any college student. The technology mixed with tradition makes everything unique. Plasma TVs, updated IT equipment, student help desk, a 24-hour lab, an online database, librarians ready to assist you. What more could I want?

I come home excited to tell my parents everything. Rollins is much more than I could ever imagine. I am intimidated by the newness of it all. Could this campus become home!?

The lake became my favorite spot. My “secret spot,” I called it. The place I go to reflect on life, talk to God, relax, refocus, rest. The trees, I love those trees! So old, so strong, so protective. Their shadows cover Rollins and protect this community.

My first day working at the campus was memorable. Everything was new. The locations of the buildings, my coworkers, my IT position. Quickly enough, I learned the resources available to the students, the labs, the people. Little by little, Rollins changed from a strange campus to a familiar face.

The next month, I moved from asking for help around the campus to guiding Rollins students. Being a part-time worker at the IT department, I learned to assist Rollins students to the best of my ability. During the day, I assisted Rollins students, at night I became one.

My first semester is almost over now. A lot has happened since August of 2008.

The buildings that held the history of a stranger now hold my history, memories, past. As a leader of the Rollins community by actively being part of the Academic Honor Council, I have a much wider perspective than that of my first day. I can say Rollins is now my home. The roads, the parking lot, the classrooms, the professors, the students…they are all part of my life now.

This is the first semester of many. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Much more to see, many more to meet, a lot to learn. I can’t wait for it all!

Mom and Dad kissing me on my graduation from Valencia (May 2008).

Mom and Dad kissing me on my graduation from Valencia (May 2008).

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Read more about... Rafaela:

Let's see…who am I? I'm a Brazilian-Portuguese-Italian Rollins pre-med and international affairs transfer student. I moved from Brazil to the U.S. about two and a half years ago. My main goal in life is to be a doctor and assist those who need help the most: Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans. I'm willing to go wherever they need me! I have been working at the IT department at Rollins for six months now. I love it! Unique things about me? I have 20 uncles and aunts and 38 cousins. My pet is a turtle, and I have four last names!

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