Anabella Munoz Attends National Leadership Forum at UC Berkeley

Anabella Munoz, a rising junior at Montverde Academy, has a fiery passion for helping others, which has fueled her desire to become a neurosurgeon. Throughout her years at MVA, she has made it her mission to promote lifestyle medicine, a branch of medicine that works to prevent chronic illnesses by helping people develop a healthy lifestyle through six pillars: eating healthy, being physically active, managing stress, sleeping well, building relationships, and avoiding substance abuse.

This past school year, she created the first-ever high school lifestyle medicine club and educated its members and the MVA student body on how to incorporate these pillars into their own life. Because of the club’s success, she earned the privilege of co-authoring an article titled “The Inauguration of the First High School Lifestyle Medicine Club” with her mentors: Dr. Sharon Wasserstrom, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Central Florida; Leonie Dupuis, a fourth-year medical student at UCF; and Dr. Elizabeth Frates, Assistant Professor at Harvard University and President-elect of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. The article will be featured in the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Handbook to promote lifestyle medicine and inspire students to create their own lifestyle medicine clubs and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Wasserstrom nominated Anabella to be a part of the Brain Health Initiative, and she was accepted in July. The initiative, which is incorporated with Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospital, researches innovative solutions focused on brain health promotion, performance optimization, and brain illness prevention. In August, she and other high school and college students will have the opportunity to watch Harvard lectures on brain health and research methods for improving brain performance and preventing diseases.

This summer, Anabella was invited to the National Youth Leadership Forum for Medicine at the University of California, Berkeley, where she listened to world-class surgeons, such as Dr. Julie Ann Sousa, an endocrine surgeon who works at one of the top five medical schools in the country, and met students from around the world with similar aspirations. She even acquired skills in suturing, learned to make a tourniquet, and obtained her CPR certification.

While in California, she visited Stanford University where she met with Dr. David Maron, one of the world’s leading clinicians and researchers in the prevention and medical management of cardiovascular disease, and with Dr. Hauser, the Obesity Medicine Director of the Medical Weight Loss Program in the Stanford Lifestyle and Weight Management Center.

Being a part of the Brain Health Initiative and the National Youth Leadership Forum for Medicine and creating the first high school lifestyle medicine club have allowed her to live out her passion for helping others, nurture her interest in the medical field, and explore new opportunities.