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Ladies Who Lead

These Fearless Females Prove There is no Barrier to Benevolence

Shawn Muir

Title: Assistant Principal, Douglas County Schools, Mesa Middle School

Shawn was recently honored at a Leadership Douglas County event for instigating a weekend food program for her school’s at-risk students through Food for Thought.

What is a lesson you've learned?

There have been myriad lessons learned when working in education, but the most critical one is how important empathy is when working with students and parents. Families come to us with different backgrounds, different experiences and different expectations. I strive to look at where they are coming from to help understand their behaviors, attitudes and struggles and provide them empathy so that they feel understood and valued. The opportunity to form a working and collaborative relationship is provided because of this.

What's your best life advice? 

As a human being, the keystones to success include always being true to your word, honoring your commitments and being honest. First and foremost, build relationships with students and parents and ensure that all students are valued as an individual. When students feel understood, heard and acknowledged, there is more opportunity for growth. 

What is your passion? 

My passion is connecting to students in a way that makes them feel that they have value, a place in this life and a purpose for being here. I want every student to feel that there is always one adult in their corner, regardless of if that is me, or if I can help foster a relationship between a student and their parent or teacher. 

Melanie Zhou and Mia Hayden

Title: Students, Thunder Ridge High School; and Co-Founders, Oasis Mental Health

As one of 12 finalists, Melanie and Mia won a $10,000 grant from Fight Back Foundation in October 2018 for their nonprofit, Oasis Mental Health.  

How did Oasis Mental Health originate, and what is the focus?

We started Oasis after a friend's suicide last year. We realized that not many high school students feel comfortable talking about their mental health or seeking help in a time of crisis. Oasis is now focused on destigmatizing the mental health conversation by building physical mental health "Oasis" spaces in public high schools. We hope Oasis empowers students to make mental health a priority in their daily lives, helping them overcome struggles like we have faced. 

What are your passions and future plans? 

Melanie: Because of Oasis, I have grown my passion for the human brain. The intersection between neuroscience and psychology fascinates me, and I can't wait to use neuroscience to illuminate the unknowns in mental health. In the next few years, I want to bring our organization to schools across Colorado while partnering with mental health programs that are proven to help students. Oasis helped me with my mental health, and ultimately, I want to help others.

Mia: I have always been passionate about business. Through Oasis, I have been able to apply the theoretical concepts we’ve learned in business class to a functioning 501(c)(3). In my future, I want to continue using these skills to deliver a strong social impact on our community through Oasis. I would like to see our organization develop a larger product line and a wider customer demographic within the next few years. Ultimately, I want to see our Oasis mission across Colorado. 

Alora Rankin

Student, Sagewood Middle School 

Alora recently spoke at a Leadership Douglas County fundraiser aimed at helping hungry students through Food for Thought, an outreach of SECOR.

What is a lesson you’ve learned?

One life lesson I have somewhat learned but I am still working on, is that is failure is OK. I tend to be a perfectionist, so I struggle when I fail something in life that I am passionate about. The truth is, however, failing is how you get better. You try something, you fail, and you learn from it to become better. 

What are your future plans?

Although I don’t know what I want to do when I am older, I do know that I want to be happy. It sounds cliche, but most people have a time in their lives where they hate their job and they want to do what they love so they can be happy, but they are scared to make the leap. I want to try and jump over as many of the unhappy and frustrating parts in life as I can and just do what I love, whatever that may be.

 What is your passion?

I am passionate about keeping my grades up, doing cheer, getting better at surfing and skiing, staying active, being social, being happy, having time for my family, taking as many opportunities as I can, but most importantly, giving back to my community. I like to stay involved in community service through student government and NJHS at Sagewood but also through SECOR, which is very near and dear to my heart. I love to help any way I can. I have been very blessed to always have a roof over my head, food on my table and anything else I could ever need, so I find it important to give to the people who are not as fortunate as I am. If we give to the people who need help, we are making our community stronger as a whole, and to impact as many people as I can in my life is really my big end goal in life.