It’s not every day that Northwest Vista College students get to claim that People Magazine gave them a shout out or in Micah Palacios’ case – a feature in their digital magazine.
Micah was one of 11 girls featured in its story on, “Meet PEOPLE’s Girls Changing the World in 2020.”
The magazine said, “In honor of International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11, we’re celebrating young innovators and trailblazers making a difference in their communities and beyond.”
Destigmatizing Mental Health: Micah Palacios, 18
At 9, Micah Palacios lost 75 percent of her hair due to alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease. She turned to her San Antonio 4-H group to assist with the ensuing anxiety and depression, and their embrace inspired her to share her mental health struggles with others. Since then, she’s led 4-H community workshops, spoken to elementary school students and starred in a PSA with actress Sophia Bush.
“People say my story has helped them,” says Palacios. “I never thought I could change people’s lives.”
While Micah has been working on mental health and how to bring it to young adults for a while, she received the opportunity at Northwest Vista College to hone in on her passion in Dr. Homer Guevara, Jr.’s Texas Government class in the fall of 2019 when she was taking college classes as a high school student.
Dr. Guevara provides his students sample issue papers (white papers) that he’s authored for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce related to higher education through his role as the Chamber’s co-chair of the Education and Workforce Council.
Students can select problems Texas faces in different areas such in K-12, Higher Education, Health, Energy, Criminal Justice System, etc. and then present their policy proposals to the class as if the audience is the Texas Legislature. The idea is to provide the legislature with ideas that can potentially become laws, thus creating a plan of action to improve the daily lives of Texans.
“It was exciting to learn how an assignment could inspire students to see that they can make an impact in their community. I’m extremely proud of Micah for pushing her initiative and making her goals a reality. We’re a better world for it,” said Dr. Guevara.
Now a freshman at NVC, Micah launched the “Navigating Your Thoughts Mental Health” in September 2019 with Bexar County 4-H. Her 4H mentors, Natalie Cervantes and Rudy Ruedas from Bexar County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, also gave her the support necessary to make her project a reality.
“My 4-H leaders and friends surrounded me with support during the difficult times. My experiences with alopecia areata showed me firsthand how mental health can affects people’s lives. I wanted to educate young people on what his mental health and reduce stigma in our community,” Micah said. “I have continued my work in the 4-H program by educating youth on mental health in Bexar county 4-H by leading workshops and now Mindfulness Mondays on Zoom for all ages to learn about mental health/coping mechanisms.”