Brianna Somoano

Center Academy Student with Physical Challenges Inspires All

Even though she is inconvenienced by Cerebral Palsy, when the rest of the kids got up to dance at her high school prom, Brianna Somoano was right there with them. She got her wheelchair to spin in circles and raise up and down. And, she used the same technique for several years as a cheerleader!

Brianna started with Center Academy at the Lutz campus in August of 2015 when she was in the 9th grade. Now a senior and on the threshold of graduation, she wants to become a motivational speaker. She has already spoken in front of the entire school with a powerful message: People with disabilities — even if they appear different — should never be viewed differently, because everyone has the same feelings and emotions inside.

She likes English and Economics because they challenge her and make her “think outside of the box.” Her favorite teacher is Larry Taylor because “he is a very down to earth person and has taught me a lot about life.” What she likes most about Center Academy is its environment… and how the teachers appear to be so happy to watch her succeed. “I feel as though I have definitely matured as a person and I can now stand up for myself confidently,” she said. “I know that I can accomplish anything that I decide to do.”

Somoano Quintuplets

Somoano quintuplets, clockwise starting on left: Alyssa, Brianna, Cody, Dante, and Evan.

Brianna recently made Honor Roll and Student of the Month. She is a quintuplet with three brothers and one sister. Her parents are Jack and Kathy Somoano; her brothers are Dante, Evan and Cody, and her sister is Alyssa. Their family has appeared twice on the Oprah show – the first time when Jack Somoano became a stay-at-home-dad for five infants. The second appearance was a “Where are They Now?” episode as young teenagers.

Assisted by braces, Brianna is able to walk, but has not done so in the school for several years. However, she has been working with one of her therapists and established a goal to walk across the stage at graduation to receive her diploma. It will be an emotional time not only for her friends and family, but also for the devoted staff at Center Academy. “Seeing students like Brianna overcome obstacles and find success is truly uplifting,” said Dr. Andrew Hicks, CEO and Clinical Director of Center Academy. “We are extremely proud of her!”

Brianna will be attending Pasco-Hernando State College and go into social work and public speaking. “I have always had a passion for helping people and making a difference in their lives,” said Brianna. “This beautiful-hearted young lady is nothing short of amazing,” reported Kimberly Vitanza, administrative assistant at the Lutz campus. “We have been blessed by having her as a student here, and she is an inspiration to us all!”

Congratulations, Brianna, on all of your accomplishments, and being selected for this month’s Student Spotlight!