He drives every day from Kendall to the Overtown campus of Booker T. Washington High School, and judging by how everyone treats him there, Cristian Roldan made a good decision when he became a Tornado.
A security guard calls him “Sunshine” and gives him a hug. The principal can’t stop praising him. His peers voted him “Mr. Junior,” and when he walks through the halls, it’s high-five city. Cris is universally admired.
“He’s just an amazing, intrigueing, outgoing, passionate individual and I’m happy that he came here to Booker T,” said Stephanie Byrd, a classmate who is the reigning “Ms. Junior.” “It’s like, he sets an example and everyone follows.”
“He’s a kid that can excel, he’s a kid that is talented, he’s a kid that has a gift, but most of all he’s a kid that cares for others,” said senior Francisco Vasquez.
Cris thinks his dedication to service might have something to do with his popularity.
“I have a love for helping others, and I want to see them flourish,” Cris said. “Making the next human over, his life or her life, a little easier, makes me happy.”
This is a young man who stays after school every single day to tutor his peers in math and physics. Cris is a straight “A” student in the demanding engineering magnet program, taking all AP and dual enrollment classes. He’s also the president of the math honor society, vice president of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence club, he plays five musical instruments, he’s captain of the volleyball team, and he’s a nationally ranked kicker for the football team.
That’s quite a resume, but his mentors say nothing has gone to Cristian’s head.
“There’s a humbleness about him, it’s not just for show, I think he’s pretty grounded,” said AP Physics teacher Natan Samuels. “The possibilities are endless for him.”
So it’s obvious that Cris is a leader and among the highest of achievers academically and athletically. He also recently aced the most important extracurricular test of his life: he saved a man’s life.
It happened on February 1st. Cris drove up on a horrific accident scene before first responders arrived.
“And the man is just dying on the floor, screaming, bleeding out, his leg completely detached from his body, 20 feet down the road,” Cris recalls.
Thinking fast, Cris used his belt as a tourniquet, wrapped it high up on the man’s leg, and pulled it as tight as he could.
“And they said that if I hadn’t done that then he probably would’ve bled out and died,” Cris said.
Cris visited the man, who is a father and a husband, in the hospital, and says it was an extremely emotional and satisfying experience for both of them.
The Miami-Dade County Commission gave him a commendation, but Cris says, don’t call him a hero.
“I feel like that is my responsibility as a moral being, a human being with morals,” Cris explained.
So what’s in the future for Cris? He’s retaking he SAT soon and says he won’t be satisfied with anything but a perfect score. He wants to play college football, ideally for his dream school, Stanford, and then on to medical school to become a doctor. But he has the heart of a philosopher.
“Put love first and everything else will fall into place,” Cris said. “I have a sticker on my phone that says, ‘human kind, be both,’ and just a smile as someone’s walking by can make their day.”
Cristian is a young man who definitely practices what he preaches.