Michell was born in Tijuana. When she was young, she was afraid to tell people where she came from. “Kids from my middle school would bully me and make fun of my accent, my family, and my culture. I had to deal with hurtful stereotypes and the language barrier separated me from my classmates and impacted my grades.”
“Things got better slowly, and I set clear goals for myself to work hard. Everyday I woke up super early to cross the border and go school. I was determined to participate in class every single day.”
Michell eventually found Outdoor Outreach during her junior year at King Chavez High School. This summer she joined 12 other Leadership Program participants on a backpacking trip through the Sierra. “I was the first one to wake up in the morning, and it was freezing cold. I couldn’t feel my toes. I was standing with the stunning view of Cottonwood Lakes in front of our camp. I was speechless. I had never imagined waking up to such a magnificent landscape. I started crying. It could have been the fact that I had just graduated from high school, or the fact I was there and alive to experience it.”
Michell’s favorite quote is, “Great things never came from comfort zones.”
“With Outdoor Outreach, I learned to step out of my comfort zone as I experienced almost every activity for my first time. There are no words to explain the power of exposure to incredible places to defeat the fear of trying new things.”
At Outdoor Outreach I found a place where I feel free to be myself. I know I still have much to learn. There are still days when I get discouraged. But now I have the courage to keep trying. I have a voice — in English and Spanish — and I will use it to help others speak up about how they feel.”
Michell graduated from the Outdoor Outreach Leadership Program in August 2018, and subsequently began her freshman year at San Diego State University.
Outdoor Outreach is a San Diego-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides adventure-based youth development programs serving 1,700 vulnerable and at-risk youth each year. Through those programs, we’re helping youth build resilience in the face of challenges, and confidence in their power to make a difference.