TULALIP — Selma Marin, 18, was so anxious when she came to Mountain View High School late in her sophomore year that she barely spoke above a whisper, when she spoke at all. Now she’s the student government president, represents students on the Marysville School Board, organizes school activities, and isn’t afraid to talk to anyone.
Question: You’re involved in a lot now. But your transition here two-and-a-half years ago from a traditional high school in Everett was a rough one, I understand.
Answer: It was really difficult. I was suffering with a major injury that didn’t let me walk well, and also had anxiety, stress and depression. I couldn’t actually engage with people. … I’d try to engage, try to work, but I was really overwhelmed. It took me all (sophomore) year. And then junior year — boom, I took off.
That’s why I joined student government. I wanted to get myself to go out there. It took a couple months for me to engage in activities; and then I talked to people, rather than staying in the corner and pushing people off. I’d actually try to talk to people, even if it was a whisper — even if I could barely hear it.
Q: You did a food drive, donated blood for the first time, took part in other causes, and lots more.
A: I would go up for emcee — things I would never do before. I’ll do the emcee. I even did it by myself. I was named Student of the Quarter twice and Student of the Week several times. I was really proud of myself. Even reading (what the teachers wrote in their nominations), I was like, Did I really do that? Because it was such a change from before when it was more she’s so quiet, she doesn’t talk.
Everybody is so welcoming here. And the counselors are wonderful. Susan (Latendress, a counselor), she’d say, “You can do it. We’re here for you.” And my teachers and the other staff — even if it’s a few words — I feel like I belong, I actually feel found here. … You’ll make it. And I did. Just a few more weeks now, and I’ll be done with high school.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m planning to go to Everett Community College. It’s cheap, it’s near — may as well go. And they offer great classes. … Right now I’d like to be a naturopathic physician. It’s always been of interest to me. … So I’m planning to go to Everett Community College, and then maybe another university — I don’t know what yet — and then maybe Bastyr University.
Who knows what the future holds? I could go for another career, one I find out about and didn’t know existed before.
Q: What advice would you give someone just starting high school?
A: Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose hope, regardless of what you’re going through. Don’t give up on yourself. Push yourself. I think I would have loved if someone told me that when I was down, when I was at that point. Well, my mom did. My mom did give me that advice. “You’re strong. You’ll get through this. You’ll look back on this some day and say, It was bad, but I got through it.” In the future, I know one day I’ll look back and say, it was bad, but I made it. And I’ll be on the beach, with a pina colada or something.
Don’t let your dreams just be dreams. And I have said that to people already. … It’s like you’re walking in quick sand. You can’t push too quickly. You’ve got to go slow and steady. Even if there’s something pulling at your feet, keep walking.
Q: Does anyone come to mind who has mentored or inspired you along the way and helped you?
A: I want to include everyone at Mountain View. Everyone has done their part, even if it was saying hi. … Two people who have mentored me, those would be Judy (Whitman) and Sue (Latendress). They have given me such great advice.
And two people who have inspired me have been my mom and my brother — I love my dad, but my mom and my brother. My mom has gone through so many hardships but she’ll smile and say, “We’ll get through this.” My little brother, he’s 4. He was in a near-death experience when he was a baby, which really affected me. Even though he was a baby, he still defeated death, he kept on living. No matter how old I get, that’s a memory that will always stay with me — how little he was and how he kept going.
Q: A lot of your school activities have been focused on giving, like starting a Secret Elf exchange at Christmas or giving blood or collecting food donations.
A: It’s the giving that’s the present for me.
Q: You’ve said the smaller learning community at Mountain View made a big difference in your progress.
A: It’s so close. It’s more like family. Friends have helped me with how to defend myself, even if they weren’t intending to. I will always be grateful for that. I progressed so much over the years. There’s still a long way to go to be the person I achieve to be. But that halfway-there was good.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3432.