Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Mikaela. We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
I am a first-generation college student. I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. Maternally, I was the youngest sibling out of three and my two sisters were closest in age. So I was left out of the activities that they shared. I was never the type to have friends or be very social and outgoing because I loved to be by myself in my little bubble. I never really had my own sister my age or a friend around my age because I was so into school and learning. What led me down this path is wanting to be a support system for those who didn’t have a person to whom they could relate or view as a mentor.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career?
There are many factors that contributed to pursuing my career path. One day, I sat down by myself and reflected on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I googled personality tests and I found a Myers-Briggs personality test, which gave me the results of my personality type, along with my strengths and weaknesses. I linked my weakness of not being social to my strength of learning and helping others. I was inspired to pursue this career to create social change, foster social justice, and be a resource to those who don’t know who to go to or what to do when they are having issues emotionally and academically.
What is one thing you are most proud of achieving in your life?
One thing I am proud of achieving in my life is being persistent and never giving up. I’ve been through mental health issues, homelessness, and severe anxiety and depression. I am working on not panicking over little things and having patience. I realize that everything isn’t going to happen immediately or exactly when I want it to happen. I have mastered the art of executive functioning skills and critically thinking about what steps I need to take to accomplish my goals.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am grateful for my mother. My sisters did step in when my mom was unable to, but it was my mother who taught me so much by her example. We went through a lot when we were younger – and even though she cried, she never gave up. She worked more than one job to put food on the table for my sisters and me. She never complained about being tired or overworked. She taught me that life is what you make it. Even though she never went to college, she did everything she could to ensure that I was healthy and stable to make my own decisions independently. I’ll never forget the strength that she exhibited, especially when we got kicked out of our low-income housing program.
What do you enjoy most about teaching/tutoring?
I enjoy helping people use the tools they need to develop to assist students with solving their own problems. I never just give students the answer; rather I guide them to critically thinking about putting their thoughts into steps to solve their own problems independently. I love helping them have that “ah ha” moment where the lightbulb goes off in their head. I know at that point they are able to critically think and solve problems themselves. That is what’s most satisfying to me: to know that what I am doing is working. I am happy that I have this opportunity to serve as a tutor and mentor to underrepresented students.
Tell us about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?
An amazing trip I took was to Miami, Florida with my family and close friends. The temperature was really warm and we had a ball seeing what the city had to offer. We enjoyed bonding and getting to know each other more. I also enjoyed participating in fun games where we were able to learn new things about one another that we didn’t know beforehand. Even though it was really hot there, the whole experience was refreshing.
Is there something exciting you are working on now? What is it and why did you choose to start it?
Something exciting that I am working on now is working on my Master of Public Health program at Northern Illinois University. I chose to start this program in January 2021, right after I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s in Human Development & Family Sciences and Rehabilitation and Disability Services with a minor in Counseling. It’s exciting because what I am learning can be applied to working with people of all ages. I am appreciative that NIU had a specialization in Health Services Management so I can ensure that clients and/or patients are receiving the services they need that affect their health and their ability to participate in activities of daily living.
The road to success is difficult and requires tremendous dedication. What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Even though I had the mindset of not taking a break after a while of being in school, it is important to know when to take a break and breathe. I have a bad habit of feeling stuck and not being where I want to be when in reality, I am only 23 years old with my whole life ahead of me. I was afraid of taking a break after graduating with my Bachelor’s because I didn’t want to be complacent. However, this made my experience in my graduate program so challenging because I was becoming irritable with wanting to hurry up and finish. My advice is to know when to give your mind a break. Take the time to meditate and focus.
What are you most passionate about? Can you share a story?
I am most passionate about helping people. Children and the elderly are the two groups I love to work with most because children are still learning and developing and the elderly need help with being independent. Both are fragile populations that need more direct care workers and assistance. Working with children and the elderly is very rewarding and satisfying. I love it because every day is not the same and you always learn new things, whether it’s from a person younger than you or a person older than you. Everyone knows something you do not.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be?
If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, it would be to have essential black-owned institutions in underserved communities and neighborhoods. Examples include schools, hospitals, and banks. This is essential for people who are underrepresented and of low socioeconomic status. Building these institutions in places where resources aren’t typically available can change a life and enable youth and families to be able to grow and thrive. My goal is to eventually eliminate the barriers of not having those resources readily accessible to those who need them.