A junior at MUSE Middle/High, Kim Sanchez embodies the school model’s emphasis on passion in every way. Before she even started her MUSE education, she was admitted to a program that provides talented LA public school students with access to resources, programming, and services to help gain admission to elite private high schools. From a very young age, Kim has taken every opportunity afforded to her and persisted with grace and self-assuredness.
During her time in the junior high program, she took a day off from school to shadow at MUSE Middle/High. She immediately connected to MUSE’s passion-based learning model, and the different avenues for post-grad – be it a job, an internship, or college. As she learned more about the school, she thought to herself, “I love it here. I want to go here.”
And so it would be. Despite MUSE being well over an hour from where she lives in downtown LA, Kim applied to MUSE as her first choice private school, and was admitted shortly thereafter. She started as a freshman at MUSE in 2017.
“I have to wake up at 4:30 a.m. every morning, but it’s so worth it,” Kim shared.
As we spoke, Kim reflected on her first year at MUSE. While she recalls being shy and reserved her freshman year, she poured herself into the MUSE experience, reveled in the small classroom environment, and by her sophomore year she really found her place – and her passion. It was at that time, in Jeff Martin’s Human Rights class, where she developed a deep interest in social justice topics.
“That class evoked something in my mind where I thought, ‘I like this. I want to learn more about this, and teach other people about these issues.’”
Each year, MUSE high school students embark on an in-depth passion project on the topic of their choice. Inspired by the lessons in her Human Rights class, Kim decided to focus her project on the issue of homelessness.
“Living in downtown LA, I had always seen homelessness around my community, but also in Hollywood, or really wherever I would go in the city. So in my mind I thought, ‘How does this happen? And how does it keep getting worse?’ I just wanted to understand. And so I researched it, and was shocked by the numbers.”
Her Human Rights class, paired with her Seed-To-Table class’ focus on food insecurity, propelled Kim’s desire to study the pervasive homelessness in greater Los Angeles, and take on a project to help serve the community.
With the help of her Seed-to-Table instructor, Alexys Thomas, Kim was connected with the Family Rescue Center – a local organization that aids underserved individuals and families through a food bank, donation center, and various events.
Kim started small, by growing, harvesting, and preparing a meal from the MUSE garden for an Easter event at the food bank this past April. After the success of the event, Alexys and Kim decided to form an ongoing relationship with the Family Rescue Center. Kim decided to dedicate six of MUSE’s garden beds to the program, and is hoping to increase that number to nine beds in the next year.
Kim leads the project, coordinating with the organization’s leaders to identify what types of fruits and vegetables the community needs. In the future, she hopes to host workshops on-site, and even construct garden beds at the center so the families can learn to grow their own food there, as well.
“Alexys is very empowering. Especially with food insecurity, she knows a lot about that. And with my homelessness passion project, she really encouraged me to do the event – which I didn’t necessarily want to at first because I was really shy,” Kim said.
Despite any reservedness, Kim persists. She recently joined in on MUSE’s Human Rights trip that takes place each fall semester. Through the Mending Kids program, a group of MUSE teachers and students travel to Guatemala to help families with children in need of Ear Nose and Throat procedures, and walk them through the entire surgery process. Kim and the MUSE team worked tirelessly to make sure the experience went smoothly for the young patients and their parents. Sometimes, they even went into the operating room.
“I get a little queasy when I see blood, and the first surgery I saw was a nose surgery. I was in the room, and felt a little nauseous, so I left. But after that one, I was like – I can’t give up here. So I went back, and the second time around, I was ok.”
Kim’s unwavering grit and desire to serve others has led her to developing a clear vision of her future plans.
“I’m most interested in doing immigration law right now…I want to be able to protect people, and defend people.”
Thinking forward to her post-MUSE plans, she hopes to attend an out-of-state college, but not for the reasons you’d assume.
“I want to go somewhere outside of California – and really learn about that other place and what people have going on there. And then I can come back and help my community here in LA after college,” Kim explained.
Needless to say, the LA community is lucky to have Kim as their advocate. And so is MUSE – Kim brings the model’s core pillars to life so beautifully, particularly those of passion-based learning and self-efficacy. Her commitment to serving those who need it most, and actively pursuing avenues by which she can understand and combat major social issues, is a shining example of how young people have the capacity to make real change when given the freedom, and support, to do so.