NVC Student Recognized by People Magazine for Tackling Mental Health

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.”

This is from People magazine:

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.”

To contact Micah or to find out about Mindfulness Mondays, see her Instagram page at @MicahPalacios.

NVC Psychology Club Receives National Recognition for Event

Mental Health HeaderLike most students, I wanted to be a part of something on campus and I finally decided to join the NVC Psi Beta chapter. Integrating yourself into a club for the first time is hard, but this was worth it; I walked into a tight-knit group who invited me in!

For months before, some key club members, advisors, officers and club vets alike, had worked to put all the pieces together to get the Mini Mental Health Summit (see national award at bottom) up and running. It was amazing to see the well-oiled machine they had scheduled. On the day of the event, there was a photobooth with a cutout filter, artwork done by students, an inkblot station to tell us how it made you feel, a variety of local agencies all dealing with mental health and wellness, a panel of speakers, videos, and food!

Still a newbie in the club, I stayed close to the few I knew by the photo booth, took pictures and saw some of the artwork we collected, with our members playing music and singing across the hall. It was there I saw representatives from Clarity Child Guidance Center, and got to chat them up about future opportunities. I even painted an inkblot that students could respond to – it seemed to make people feel happy or hungry! The panel though, was my favorite part. Hearing from our counselor, from some of the agency representatives and our own students tell their stories and offer wisdom was insurmountably inspiring. I began to see some of these quasi-strangers differently and I wasn’t shy anymore.

Our mini mental health summit was a defining moment for NVC, Psi Beta, and myself. It was MY first big event that I worked with the clubs, and showed me what we could do! The officers that put it together showed me what we were capable of; this club and our amazing advisors helped to introduce me to one of the communities where I fit best and has astronomically improved my college experience.

The panel we held supplied to the conversation we were having around mental health and contributed to creating a safe space on campus. It allowed students and teachers to see that we weren’t afraid to have the conversation in the first place! The summit was a trend setting, award-winning event that was put together with the goal of simply educating; it was a selfless act that has driven me to want to give back and provide the same opportunity for our club and our school and our community. It’s success has made me determined to gather the troops and hold an event to inspire and teach people here, too. Holding such an event on campus so shamelessly added a brick to the pavement on the trek to breaking the mental health stigma.

I have had some amazing professors here at Northwest Vista, and they have aided in my growth, as well as this organization. To have a community this open minded surrounding you, we grow close and have meaningful friendships because of it. We help each other and accept each other because of it, too. We were able to open up our community to the whole campus during the summit, and by making the discussion of mental health visible and accessible, we shed light on the topic. I believe that there are students out there who made strides to talk to someone about their feelings, and we made people unashamed to ask for help. That is why we need events like this: so people don’t feel so alone. We stay silent out of fear of being rejected and ostracized, but when people get up on stage and draw attention to their survival and their strength it shows the rest of us what is possible.

By NVC Student Diane Goguen

Note: 
Psi Beta National Honor Society awarded the NVC chapter the 2016-17 Community Service Award for its Mental Health Summit last November at NVC. Read News Release Community Service Award 16-17.doc.

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