Graduate 2019: Mia May
Learning to Love Every Opportunity
For Mia May, high school almost sounds like a series of events that she didn’t really want to do — and ended up loving anyway.
For instance, there was Early Middle College, a program in which students complete a fifth year of high school and then graduate with not only their high school diploma but an associate’s degree or certificate from Kalamazoo Valley Community College as well. May, 18, has completed her high school courses and at the end of next year will also have an associate’s degree in education, which will put her on the path to a teaching career.
But, it was a friend who first suggested EMC, and her mother who “made” her enroll. Her parents are Steve and Liza May.
“I was worried I was going to miss out on all of this fun senior stuff,” she said. “But at one point, it just hit me: I like being a college student. I’m glad I did it. It gave me a lot more freedom.”
The program begins as dual enrollment, with students working closely with advisors to select a class at KVCC in addition to their high school coursework. By the end of the program, the students’ schedules have reversed with most or all of their classes being held at KVCC and students taking the lead in planning classes and schedules.
“I feel more like an adult, doing my own thing,” she said. “As long as I keep my grades up, it’s all good. If you plan your schedule right, you can have a really good day.”
It hasn’t been easy. The KVCC classes are more demanding and she has to be more diligent with her work and be well organized. May is excited to be taking a step toward the career in education that she’s always dreamed of — and she’s doing it without having had to tap into her Kalamazoo Promise scholarship yet. She hopes to use that to attend Northern Michigan University in the future.
“I’ve always enjoyed kids, so helping them and being with them all day would be a dream. I’m not really there for the money. I’m there to help.”
Another memorable experience for May — one that she really didn’t want to do at first — was work with PeaceJam, the student club that volunteers extensively in the community, organizes lectures with Nobel Peace Prize winners, and participates in international service projects. It was a friend who “dragged” her to the first meeting.
She traveled with the group to South Africa and to India, where they met families, learned about the cultures, and volunteered to work with children.
This year she delivered a speech before 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who personally invited her to return to India and to volunteer with his group.
“People are like, ‘Why would you go to India?’ But I think, ‘why wouldn’t you?’,” she said. “I loved the culture and everyone was so welcoming. It was almost like in the movies with all of the spices and colors. It’s really amazing. It was an experience I’ll never let go of.”
And, there was one more experience she’ll never forget — another one that she undertook reluctantly. When she was a freshman, her brother was on the wrestling team, and they asked her to serve as manager.
“I was really scared that first year, but the second year I asked a friend to do it with me and after that we really had a blast,” she said.
Coaches Derrick Parker and Alex Hill have been like second parents, she said. They joked with them. They listened to them. They snuck them pizzas during final exams.
Hill said May was, “a joy to be around. She was a coach and a leader for the team, especially during her senior year. Life as a coach would be much more difficult without her around.”
May will miss the coaches, especially their never-ending stream of positive messages: You’re going to do fine. You’re going to do great.
“I feel like I can sit there and tell them anything and they would be there and help me through it,” she said. “They’re teachers as well, and if I had questions for them, they could answer them. They’re great coaches, great people.”