22 Feb 2021

Meet the Winner of the Fall 2020 Darrigo & Diaz Scholarship for Emergency Responders and Their Families: Victoria Orindas

Posted By Darrigo & Diaz

Darrigo & Diaz Attorneys at Law is pleased to introduce Victoria Orindas Corcino as the Fall 2020 Winner of our Annual Scholarship for Emergency Responders and Their Families.

Since 1999, the personal injury attorneys at Darrigo & Diaz have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of Tampa community members; those who fall victim to serious injuries in auto and trucking accidents, slip and falls, and wrongful death cases. Each day, we see firsthand the phenomenal acts of courage, compassion, and competence exhibited by emergency responders. We are honored to contribute to their educational path and will be awarding a $1,000 scholarship to an emergency responder or medical professional student each spring and fall semester. 

Victoria Orindas is a full-time student at the University of Central Florida who is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences. Upon graduation, she plans to attend medical school and specialize in geriatrics and gerontology—a passion that was cultivated as her part-time job as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a local assisted living facility.

“Considering that I was a full-time student and working part-time as a CNA, it was good practice for medical school. At times, I was heavily relying on self-discipline to get through the week, because motivation and excitement quickly fade away when facing obstacles. Working as a CNA helped me discover the true reason I am pursuing medicine.”

Yet, overcoming obstacles is nothing new to Victoria. As a teenager, she moved to the United States from the Republic of Moldova.  Attending high school in a new country had its challenges. She had to learn and study in a language she was not fluent in; she had to adapt to a new culture; and she had to leave behind family and friends who were part of her childhood. But Victoria perceived these challenges as opportunities.

“It was overwhelming to study in a language I was not fluent in, while adapting to a new culture. I have always been eager to learn and my natural curiosity helped me tremendously. Without hesitation, I chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences at the University of Central Florida, to later apply for medical school and specialize in geriatric medicine.”

Victoria first became interested in geriatrics and gerontology when she was a high school student in Moldova. Through a research project, she conducted a literature review comparing the life expectancy of the geriatric population in the Republic of Moldova to the geriatric population of Western Europe, looking specifically at the health and social factors that impacted longevity. She credits this early interest as the reason for her applying to become a CNA at an assisted living facility while enrolled full-time at the University of Central Florida. 

“Despite being exhausted and overwhelmed with academics and extracurriculars, I would still come to work with a smile on my face, because this is all the residents see. They spent the majority of their day with me and other CNAs and being kind to them is the only way to gain their trust.”

As a CNA, Victoria learned the importance of creating a welcoming environment based on kindness and trust for all patients. Even though some days were challenging, she says compassion, empathy, and friendliness made it both rewarding and fun.  

“Being a caregiver was simple for me because I would treat them as my friends. [Each time I went to work,] I would think that I was going to hang out with my friends for eight hours. Who wouldn’t want to spend that much time with their friends? That is a dream come true.”

Victoria’s passion for helping others extends beyond her job as a CNA. During the summer of 2020, Victoria’s plan to shadow a physician as part of the Registered Student Organization at the University of Central Florida was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, she and a group of other students from the university initiated a care package project where they would distribute hygiene kits and lunch bags to the homeless community in downtown Orlando. After doing this for several months, Victoria discovered Service and Love Together (SALT) Outreach, a young adult led non-profit organization that serves the homeless population in Orlando.

“SALT Outreach was one of the few non-profits that had continued its operations despite the hardships brought by the pandemic. After volunteering with them throughout Summer 2020, I witnessed first-hand just how impactful their work was.”

Victoria wanted to expand the impact of SALT Outreach and thought about how she could get more students at the University of Central Florida involved. In July 2020, she partnered with the organization to start a new chapter called SALT Outreach at UCF.

When asked about what she’s learned most about her experiences at school, as a CNA, and helping the homeless community in Orlando, Victoria says being kind to others is key.

“As obvious as it sounds, it is harder and harder to spread kindness since we all live in a fast-paced world and in constant worry. A smile or holding the door open for someone, especially for the elderly, will make their day better.”

Darrigo & Diaz Scholarship for Emergency Responders and Their Families

The Darrigo & Diaz Scholarship for Emergency Responders and Their Families is just a part of our effort to recognize these heroes in our community by providing financial assistance to emergency responders and their family members to further their education and therefore further their career — or take the first step toward a new one.

Learn more about the Darrigo & Diaz scholarship and how to apply here.

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