MILL CREEK — Camilla Mejia is a senior at Jackson High School in Mill Creek. She is working to organize a support group for Hispanic students at her school. Mejia, 17 hopes to study communications and political science next year at Western Washington University. She hopes to advocate for human rights as a career.
Question: Tell me about your support group for Hispanic students?
Answer: I’m working with teachers to create a place for Latino students to work on leadership. We want to partner with outside organizations, such as Edmonds and Everett community colleges, to get it set up for second semester. It’s important, not for me, but for those who come after me. It will serve incoming students who want to get involved but don’t know how.
Q: Where’d you get the idea for the group?
A: I’m vice president of the multicultural club. Being Latino, I didn’t see much opportunity for us. I didn’t see many Latino students getting involved but Jackson is becoming more diverse. I thought it’d be good to have this population represented so I decided to start it. Our mission is to provide a safe place for Latino students to feel represented and like they can do something and be someone.
Q: How did you become a leader yourself?
A: I work at the front desk at the YMCA. I was invited to be the student representative on the Minority Achievers Program board for the Snohomish County YMCA. I loved it and thought I need to get more involved. The assistant superintendent then invited me to be the student representative on the Equity and Access Advisory Council for the Everett School District. They felt they needed a student voice and I was eager to provide that.
Q: Has your voice helped other students?
A: Last June, we met with the school board. I talked about teachers who are in touch with students. I had a teacher who made me feel so welcome and motivated. I shared that experience and the assistant superintendent decided kindness would be the theme at Jackson this school year. I was so humbled that one simple thing I said was going to have such a large impact. More students this year are going to feel welcome and warm and happy at school.
Q: How have you changed since freshman year?
A: I used to be really shy. I would be afraid to ask speak up and ask questions in class. Coming into high school, I didn’t really strive to be involved. But sophomore year, I went out on a whim and joined the swim team. I loved it. I started stepping outside my comfort zone because I saw everything fun was happening outside of my comfort zone. I also learned that I love debating. I have lots of opinions so I decided to keep doing it. Now, I’m involved. I’m not afraid to speak out and say what I feel.
Q: What else has been important for you in high school?
A: A lot of influence has come from my faith. I’m Catholic. I feel we should love people equally. That’s a big part of why I want to advocate for people’s rights as a career.