Stéphanie Pavilus is no stranger to a busy life. Currently, she is raising a son with special needs, completing her undergraduate studies in biology and psychology, volunteering and working full time. She aims to fulfill her dream of attending medical school and becoming a neonatologist, specializing in newborn care.

It is an active life that she has led since high school.

However, all of this hasn’t stopped 21-year-old Pavilus from achieving great things. She graduated from high school very early with a GPA of 3.1 and transferred to Nova Southeastern University in her first year after being offered an Academic Excellence Scholarship.

Through his hard work, Pavilus hopes to help others and give his 5-year-old son Kai a good life. She plans to start a big family one day.

Pavilus and his son Kai in their home in Boca Raton by Elise Gregg CRF 2.jpg
Stephanie Pavilus is raising her son, Kai, who has special needs; completing his undergraduate degrees in biology and psychology; volunteering and full-time work. Elise gregg CRF

“When it comes to her son, she’s on top of it,” said Maleka Smith, Pavilus life coach at SOS Children’s Village, a non-profit organization that provides support to children in families. reception and young adults.

During Pavilus’ three years in the Young Adult Program, Smith helped her find child care, tutoring, housing, and financial assistance. During this time, Smith also saw the hard work and drive from Pavilus.

“She’s a young mother and she’s so ambitious,” Smith said. “She longs for greatness.”

Pavilus’ dedication to school and motherhood inspired the agency to name her for Wish Book. Pavilus hopes to receive gift cards for clothes and food, a tablet for Kai, and textbooks to help him study for the medical school entrance exam.

Pavilus has been heading towards a career in medicine since she was young.

“I always wanted to be a doctor, but I never knew what type of doctor I wanted to be,” Pavilus said. “I discovered neonatology when my son was born and he was born very ill. ”

Kai helped her realize that she wanted to specialize in caring for newborns after her premature birth with underdeveloped lungs.

Fortunately, he has recovered and is in good health now. He is autistic, but goes to school and enjoys spending time with his many cousins.

As Kai showed off her favorite toys on a recent visit to their apartment in Boca Raton, Pavilus explained that it is sometimes difficult to keep up with motherhood and school.

“Because of the lack of child care … I end up having to take her to class with me,” she said. “I’m lucky when I have teachers who are super understanding.”

When she can’t bring Kai to class, Pavilus has to catch up on class during teachers’ office hours. She also needs to make sure Kai gets on her bus safely before she can leave for her classes, which are about a 40-minute drive to Davie from her home in Boca Raton.

Pavilus and his son Kai in their house in Boca Raton by Elise Gregg FIU.jpg
Stephanie Pavilus with her son, Kai, born prematurely with underdeveloped lungs. Kai, 5, is healthy now but has autism. Elise gregg CRF

Meeting the needs caused by Kai’s autism adds to Pavilus’ already busy life. She said his problems are mostly behavioral and he particularly struggles with change.

“It all depends on what’s going on around him, it really makes him come out of him,” Pavilus said.

However, she doesn’t want that to define who her son is or how she is raising him.

“I want him to be like a good person because at the end of the day I’m raising someone’s husband,” Pavilus said. “I’m raising someone’s dad, I’m raising someone’s boss, co-worker, whatever the case may be.”

She works full time for the Hospital Corporation of America, treating patients and providing customer support. Pavilus also travels to Tampa each month to volunteer with AdventHealth, a not-for-profit health care system. She hopes this work will help her enter medical school.

“I work from home now,” Pavilus said. “I work 40 to 50 hours a week.

A tablet for Kai would help keep him busy whenever Pavilus brings her to class and when she is in Tampa.

“I have to take him out of school for the day because we’re on the road,” Pavilus said. “He can do something educational and he doesn’t just relax all day.”

It’s a lot, but Pavilus said that with everything she does, life gets better.

“Some days are definitely more difficult than others,” Pavilus said. “But I’m learning as I go because it could always be a lot worse, and I’ve had a lot worse. But that’s kind of what makes me who I am.

Wish Book Logo_H1.jpg

Smith, Pavilus’ life coach, said her requests for wish books were unique.

“I’ve been with this organization for six years and none of my recipients have ever requested a book,” Smith said. “These are vital things that she needs right now to be good.”

A tablet to help her with Kai’s books and MCAT to make sure she does well in school are the start of Pavilus’ big dreams.

“I want to build my own house, I want to be in my career, I want to be happy and I want to be on the right track so that I can bless others humbly enough,” Pavilus said. “It all depends on where God decides to take me.

How to help

To help this candidate and 150 others in need this year:

▪ To donate, use coupon found in newspaper or pay securely online via

▪ For more information call 305-376-2906 or email [email protected]

▪ The most requested items are often laptops and tablets for school, furniture and accessible vans

▪ Read all of the Wish Book stories at

This story was produced in conjunction with the South Florida Media Network of the FIU