High School: Cumberland County Technical Education Center
Parents: Louis and Valerie Vastano
Community/school activities National Honor Society president; student council president; senior editor for CCTEC Newspaper club; Challenger League member; varsity baseball team member; Club Active member; volunteer tutor and CCTEC ambassador
Post-high school plans Attend Thomas Jefferson University for a five-year architecture program.
Career goals Become a licensed architect to build affordable homes, offices and a learning and living facility in Vineland .
Why is it important young people become leaders in their community? A lot of people just like to blend in, and they’re afraid of sticking out. But a real leader is someone that stands out and motivates others to do the same as well, so we have more people that are able to fix our hometowns.
What was the process like coordinating a preschool reading for National Honor Society? Preschools have a very small gap of free time, especially because of the COVID-19 rules that were coming about. So we had to be in and out within a very small window of time, and there was a lot of classrooms and we didn’t have that many students, but we still managed to get it done. It taught me that there’s a lot of different layers to leading a certain event or a certain cause. There’s more things than meet the eye. You think people would simply cooperate with you, but sometimes there’re obstacles in the way. That’s where you have to work with the other people on your team and get past it the best way possible.
What led you to want to build a learning and living center in Vineland? Growing up, I played a lot of baseball in East Vineland. I had a lot of friends who had troubled homes or their parents weren’t making enough to sustain the same kind of lifestyle I was living. I could tell they were very good-hearted people, so my goal is to go back to center city Vineland and give them a place where they have both a living community and a place to learn. So that when their parents are working, they’re not just home alone, and they have a place to go, learn and better themselves.
What inspires you to be a leader? Growing up I was always appointed to be one. And I slowly stepped into the role voluntarily, because I enjoy coordinating people whenever they’re struggling. There’s a lot of smart people that just need direction, and I like to be that direction for others.
— Raquelle Gilbert