Catalyst Student Milena Lacayo Leader and Problem-Solver

Milena is a very engaging and creative Junior at Los Altos High School who developed leadership, problem solving and math skills while attending ALearn’s Catalyst to High School program two years ago. These skills increased her confidence and enabled a much easier transition from 8th grade to freshman year. It also pushed her into taking AP courses during her sophomore year and ignited her passion for creative writing and the desire to become an English teacher.

Milena credits being nominated as the captain of the frisbee team as helping her to develop leadership skills. Milena shared that she had “never been the captain of any team previously, nor really into sports and it was an awesome experience”. The other students actually listened to what she had to say which provided her even more confidence to coach her team.

According to Milena “I learned a lot about problem solving skills by participating in both the rocket launching and egg dropping challenges. We had to carefully choose the appropriate materials to use in order to launch a rocket 50’ and in the egg challenge, we had figure out how to protect an egg from breaking as it dropped from a certain height. Of course, having a dozen cookies at stake also helped!”

The students were also introduced to Socratic seminars where they sat in a circle and made up questions about such books as Fahrenheit 451. Milena says “I would have been knocked off my feet in high school if I hadn’t been introduced to this methodology during the summer.” Milena’s math skills also improved. She failed her first test, but when she was given the option to be moved to Algebra or to stay in Geometry and do her best, she elected to stay in Geometry and her math skills went up.

Milena plans to attend USF and become an English teacher. The Catalyst program factored into her decision to be an English teacher by encouraging her creative writing skills which led her to the realization that she was “legitimately good” at writing. Just recently, Milena won her second consecutive award at a school sponsored Poetry Slam Competition, topping last year’s Honorable Mention with this year’s award for Best Overall Poem and Performance. She hopes to have at least one of her submissions published to be eligible for a free copy of the magazine highlighting her peers’ incredible talent.

We commend Milena and wish her continued success!