APOPKA, Fla. – When you’re a teenager, keys are freedom. They open up a world of possibilities, as rubber hits the road.

What You Need To Know

  • Nathanie Doralus is headed to Stanford

  • Doralus, a high-achieving student, landed a full ride

  • During the school year Doralus balaced AP courses, activities and a job

But, when you’re Nathanie Doralus, the future—and being ready for it—is key. 

That’s why the teen puts in the work now, clocking 25 to 30 hours per week at her job at burger joint Five Guys in order to earn money. During the school year, despite a full load of AP courses, clubs and activities, Doralus still worked 18 to 25 hours each week.

“I wanted to start as early as possible so I could help my mom out," she said. "I would occasionally help out with groceries and stuff for the house. If she needed things for water bills or lights, it would be a 'yes.' It never felt like a burden, an obligation. Just something I can do and would do."

Doralus grew up in Pine Hills with Haitian pride and Haitian neighbors. She never felt closer to her island nation roots and culture than when the family would attend lively church services. 

Her parents each worked two or three jobs to support the family and money was often tight.

“Back to school shopping was always a weird thing in my brain,” she said. “As a kid, you see tons of commercials. There was no question I couldn't get those types of things.​”

After her parents split in 2014, Doralus moved to Ocoee with her mother and readied herself for a new school in Apopka. She was a bit timid, but inspired by her high-achieving siblings, Doralus threw herself headfirst into all that Wekiva High had to offer. She ran track, joined clubs and sang in chorus.

But, where Doralus really shined was her studies. One day, a teacher took notice of her impeccable grades and suggested she join the Scholars Academy, which led to more opportunities, awards.

“It opened me up to ideas of attending schools like Emory, Vanderbilt and Stanford that I never knew half of those schools. That was the blessing in itself," she said.

Others sought to unlock Doralus' potential, like Wekiva High School Guidance Counselor Edwige Boireau.

“Anything less than a B, Nathanie’s in my seat, ‘Miss Boireau, please, what do I do?’” she said. “She’d be stressed out, ‘But I have to study for a test. I have to get to work, 'cause I have to help my mom.' I love her resilience."


For the last eight years, Boireau's worked at Wekiva High School. She said that guiding students to their respective futures, whatever their post-secondary plans may entail, is her calling.

She was happily surprised when a high school friend's little sister, Doralus, strolled into her office as a freshman.

“You always want to see all the children do well at the school, but to know someone be so close to you to ask you for guidance, it’s rewarding," Boireau said. “She is an amazing student. The staff love her, the kids love her. The students who are younger than her look up to her.”

Boireau helped Doralus join a program which matches high-achieving students from low-income families with top schools, like Harvard and Yale. The student wrote her major application essay about her unique name and the woman who gave it to her, her mother.

Months later, the student sat in disbelief as she opened up an email while at work and found out she got a match with a prestigious school: Stanford University. And not just acceptance, but a full ride.

“This win isn’t just for Nathanie, the win is for her family as well. The win is for her mom, all the hard work she endures, coming from an impoverished country to make a better life. It’s all for them," Boireau said.

Despite her success, and stellar 4.0 GPA, Doralus said that she still had trouble accepting the news. She knew she worked hard and felt proud, but somehow couldn't revel in her success.

“I knew too many people who were striving towards the same goals that I felt were very qualified and deserving," she explained. "There was a period of time I felt a lot of guilt and confusion, 'Why was this given to me?' My teachers were very much affirming that this was meant for me. It took me a while to get to that point."

Boireau​ said that seeing a student like Nathanie reminds her of herself, working through adversity and the hand that was dealt.

“As a Haitian American, the odds are against us. We’re foreign, we’re here and our parents came to the country to find us a better life," she said, continuing, "And Nathanie has found the way to be hungry to beat the odds. She’s amazing.”

And though the pandemic put a halt on many senior rituals, for instance, Doralus never got to sing her senior song, Billie Holiday's "I'll Be Seeing You," she belts out a few lines with her best friend over oven pizza, before switching the conversation too dorm room supplies.

She knows she holds the key to unlock a heavy door, one long-closed to herself and others like her.

“Kids like me who come from background where families might not have been fully educated," she said. "I hope I will be able to make an impact that will allow children from areas I grew up in to not have to struggle in these kinds of ways. I hope they see they have an opportunity to change that about their future families."