Tinley Park senior rules the roost when it comes to animal care
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent January 25, 2013 1:18PM
Gabriella Fabiano, who wants to go into zoology and volunteers regularly at Brookfield Zoo, poses in the chicken coop at Tinley Park High School where she is a student. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:01AM
To say Gabriella Fabiano loves animals would be an understatement.
The Tinley Park High School senior plans a career involving animals, and already has started on a path toward that. For the past five years, she has worked with the Chicago Zoological Society’s Youth Volunteer Corps, and every summer spends about 120 hours volunteering at Brookfield Zoo.
“I get to work hands-on with dolphins alongside a mentor and work with the dolphin project,” said Fabiano, who is dyslexic but doesn’t let it interfere with her ambitions.
Fabiano, 17, also volunteers at the zoo every Saturday or Sunday during the school year.
Last summer, she didn’t have to trek to the zoo to get her fill of animals. Closer to home, she helped care for Tinley Park High School’s chickens.
The school’s biology department raises chickens. The eggs are used in cooking classes and are sold locally. During the summer, students such as Fabiano were recruited to help oversee daily feedings, egg collecting and cleaning up.
“I want to go into zoology for my major so I thought it would be fun to have a little more experience,” Fabiano said of her summer job in the chicken coop.
Fabiano’s earliest memories revolve around her love of all creatures.
“I was very young and took a bird’s nest and hid it in my closet. My mom found out and that’s when I discovered how much I liked animals,” she said. “I decided to research that for my career, and around seventh grade found the Chicago Zoological program. I applied for the YVC program and I love it.”
Ultimately, she wants to travel to Africa and work at a Jane Goodall reserve.
“But if I can get a job at Brookfield Zoo and work with the dolphins, I would take it in a heartbeat. I would also love to work with endangered species and help bring them back,” she said.
At school, Fabiano is active in drama, art, interact club, key club and anime club. She works as a library aide during her study hall.
Drama is a favorite activity for Fabiano, who had the role of Scout in the school production of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and in December played the Ghost of Christmas Past in “A Christmas Carol.”
Fabiano’s parents, Tony and Terese Fabiano, of Tinley Park, are her mentors, she said.
“My mom and dad have had a really big role in everything I do. I have dyslexia, which is when you mix up letters; dysgraphia, which mixes up pictures; and dyscalculia, which is when you transpose numbers. I see things very differently,” she said. “My mom caught it at a young age and I went to what I call ‘Mama School’ and she taught me everything. I also attended the National Institute of Learning Development every morning between fifth and seventh grades. I graduated from the program and I have to learn how to apply that in life. They were a big help in my life.”
She also pushes herself.
“I was always taught if you want to reach your goals, you can’t give up,” she said. “Challenges make you stronger. Being a Christian, I know that someone is always there for me during all my challenges.”