Above Miranda Rector taught dental hygiene to children in remote Nepali villages. 

Miranda Rector will attend Yale University, where she plans to pursue a medical degree.
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Miranda Rector will attend Yale University, where she plans to pursue a medical degree. She earned a 4.4 GPA at Venice High and gained early-decision admission to the Ivy League school.

This is part of a series of stories about outstanding members of the Class of 2016.

She’ll be entering Yale University this fall as a pre-med student, but Miranda Rector’s pursuit of a career in global health has already taken her 8,000 miles away, to the other side of the world.

Rector, who is graduating on Thursday from Venice High School, spent last summer in Nepal, in the foothills of the Himalayas. She shadowed doctors in crowded community hospitals, marveled at the work being done in remote clinics, taught village youngsters how to brush their teeth. She stood alongside medical students at the Chitwan Medical College Teaching Hospital, chiming in with her own questions about what she was seeing and learning.

The trip was eye-opening for Rector, who is interested in a career in global medicine, particularly issues affecting women’s health. She is still debating whether to add research to her career goals, which would mean pursuing a doctorate as well as a medical degree.

“I really want to help others, and the best way is to be a highly educated and productive member of society,” said Rector, who aced 10 Advanced Placement classes, has a 4.4 grade-point average and gained early-decision admission to Yale. “Medicine is the best way I know to help others. I want to be the best in my field so I can make a difference.”

Principal Oryla Wiedoeft says Rector made a huge difference at Venice High, where she was captain of the robotics and science bowl teams and raised money for The Net Project, a nonprofit that provides malaria nets for underserved communities. The 18-year-old also founded and was president of the campus chapter of Junior State of America, a nonpartisan political and leadership organization.

“Miranda is a leader of leaders,” Wiedoeft said. “She is such a powerful contributor to the school, and her heart is in everything she does. But as accomplished as this kid is, she’s also really cool – just super-nice and humble.”

Except for a brief experiment with home-schooling, Rector is a product of L.A. Unified schools. She said that Venice High provided her both the support and the freedom to pursue her myriad interests and accomplish her goals.

“There are such amazing people at this school – such great teachers – and I’m going to miss them all for a very long period of time,” she said. “Everyone is so supportive of each other. This is the most loving school community in all of L.A.”