Angela Santalo - Florida Interview by Zoe D'Angelo Nomination by Carmen M. Santalo Photography by Cesar Santalo Issue 19 of Inspiring Teens Magazine - Volunteer/Entrepreneur
Angela Santalo is a talented and excellent scholar, but she is especially committed to giving back to her community. In 8th grade, she & her brothers formed an art appreciation club & in 2016 created a non-profit organization, Art for Others. They bring art supplies and conduct workshops for needy children. www.angelasantalo.wixsite.com/artforothers
Tell me about your non-profit organization y and your brothers created together, Art for Others? Art for Others has become a mission for us. My family and I had a large fire when I was in second grade. It was a difficult time for all of us. We were out of our home for a year and half. My mom and dad made sure to keep our lives as normal as possible. Ballet classes, and Spanish dance for me and baseball and art for my brothers…. everything continued. My parents reminded us of everything we still had. We didn’t have things, but we had each other. The walls of the rental house were bare because we lost my dad's artwork among many things. My mom made it our mission to fill those walls with all Santalo originals! And that's what my brothers and I did.
My older brother and I realized how important this was for us. We knew we needed to share this with others. We first started an Art Appreciation Club in the summer of my eighth grade. A lot of our friends didn't even know about all the great art venues throughout Miami. We later realized that there would be kids who would not be able to join us and were the ones who needed art the most. We formed Art For Others to bring art and art supplies to needy and sick children from my community. All three of us are passionate and committed to bringing art to others.
Our nonprofit has several goals. The first is to let young people know about all the great art that is available in Miami. My father is an artist, so we have been surrounded by art our entire lives. Every month, I plan an outing. I research the events and coordinate the time and place and communicate it to the students. We have kids from all over Miami. We have even included exchanges students from Italy and Spain in many of our functions. We have visited different art venues including Art Basel, Wynwood Walls, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables Theater, the PAMM. We have even done a bike tour around our city to see the Art in Public Places. The second and most important goal is to bring art to the children who need it the most. We work with many of the sick children at the Ronald McDonald house and their families. We also work with the children at Centro Mater, a low income after school care. The last goal is to collect art supplies for them so they can continue to create something beautiful even when we are no longer there.
What do you love most about art and why? I love the arts. It has been a huge part of my growing up. My father is an artist and we have been around exhibitions and museums always. Music, dance, and art were also infused in my grammar school curriculum. I have danced and performed since I was four years old. I enjoy singing and love being on stage. I have discovered a love for musical theater at St. Brendan. I enjoy creating and working with others. I am a very dedicated and committed student, but the arts complete me. I have always been at the top of my class. I take my studies very seriously and put forth maximum effort. I have always been driven and have a commitment to do things well. I have had great teachers and have done well in my classes, but I have learned a great deal about myself in drama in high school. I gained confidence and many wonderful friends. I have been dancing since I was 4, but in drama I found my voice. I really did not know that I could sing, but more importantly, I learned that my voice was powerful, and my ideas were meant to be shared.
Why do you think you are inspiring? I am so fortunate that so many people believe in my vision and have supported me. Helping others brings me joy. I think since I am happy, that may be contagious.
What are some of the ways you keep yourself organized? I have always been very involved in many activities, so from a young age I learned to prioritize.
What are your plans for the future? My entire life, I thought I was going to study something in medicine. I graduated from high school with 37 college credits. After my first semester, I realized that it was not what I had envisioned. I did well in my classes, but it did not complete me in the way I thought it would. I have switched to Communications Art. It is still a lot of work since I am in the Honors College at Florida International University, but I am enjoying my classes and what I am learning. I hope to be able to help Art for Others continue to grow with all my new skills.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? My advice to any young person is to become involved in anything and everything. These years go by too quickly. I also would tell them not let set backs get you down. I have been dancing my entire life and did not make my high school dance team, but it was because of this set back that I discovered that I can sing, and that I love theater. It is because of this, that I met some amazing people and learned so much about myself. I didn’t even know I could sing! Because of this setback, I was able to form the first high school Dance Honor Society for my Conservatory of the Arts where I have danced since I was four.
Be open to possibilities. Sometimes the plan is even bigger than just us. Take chances, be open, and don't give up.
What is your favorite pastime? My favorite activity in addition to Art for Others, includes singing with my friends. I also enjoy traveling, and I love going to the theater!
Any hidden talents? My hidden talent, which is not so hidden any more, is that I can sing. I am also very funny.
Who inspires you? My mom is inspiring because she always puts the needs of others before herself. My parents both always look at the positive side of everything. They inspire me to be better.
Pizza or tacos? Soda or Water? Dogs or Cats? Tacos, always tacos! I love soda, but I will drink water. Dogs are great!
Three things on your bucket list? I would love to travel the world, swim with the pigs in the Exuma, Bahamas, and be on Saturday Night Live!
Anything else you want to add? I am very grateful and honored to have been selected among so many amazing teens. Angela will be featured in Issue 19 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!