By Lauren Pastrana

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — For senior high school students, the coronavirus pandemic upended any plans they had to celebrate their success at the end of the school year.

So we are shining a spotlight on standout students who’ve gone above and beyond.

Today, we’re featuring Nicole Yedra of Fort Lauderdale High School, who admits the circumstances have made her emotional at times.

“When I found out graduation wasn’t happening, I burst into tears,” Nicole said.

But Nicole should be all smiles when looking back on all she’s accomplished during her high school career.

“I was in SGA, a part of their leadership program,” Nicole said. “I started a club for students with special needs and general education students and we got together at parties and I tutored them. I was a peer counselor for 2 years.”

She’s graduating with a 4.0 GPA and more than 300 service hours with groups like the Broward Youth Coalition and Latinos in Action.

She served as the Harvest Drive committee chair to help feed 200 families every year.

Nicole also won first place at the World Language Competition.

“High school was definitely a crazy time. It was a learning curve, a different experience,” she said. “But I learned a lot, grew a thicker skin and I’m really sad it’s ending this way.”

In addition to her schoolwork, Nicole also worked at Publix since her freshman year.

In her spare time, she still makes it a point to give back to the community.

“It’s just meant to help. Every club, every organization is meant to help somebody,” Nicole said. “It was really just to put out good positive energy into the community.”

Nicole plans to attend Florida Atlantic University in the fall, where she intends to major in psychology as a continuation of years of volunteer work focused on mental health.

“I realized, especially after my grandfather died, just how important counseling was. I’m like, well this helped me and I’m all about helping so if I can learn about this and help, that’s honestly the best thing ever,” she said.

Nicole says she has a lot of people to thank for her high school success, so she plans to return to campus to show her appreciation once it’s deemed safe to do so.

Lauren Pastrana