Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 6

Las Lomas Inspiring Women

Carmen Alsip- Varsity Wrestler

Carmen is a Sophomore at Las Lomas and it is her first year on the Las Lomas Varsity Wrestling team. Being a female wrestler has come with its own set of challenges: “A lot of people view women’s wrestling as a joke and I am often asked if I am “allowed” to wrestle guys. Female wrestling is viewed as “softer” than male wrestling and people view female wrestlers as weaker.” She is inspired by her mom, herself, and her goals. Her biggest goal is to compete at the state level and make others happy. 

Kyla Watkins

Kyla is the President of Las Lomas’ Speech and Debate team. She has competed on Varsity level, placing third, and recently qualified for State competition. On top of her amazing accomplishments in the debate field, she participated in the televised Poetry Out Loud county competition. In early 2019 she wrote her own legislation to combat homelessness in California for a competition with the Lion’s Club. On the side, she’s done some side acting in films, musicals, plays, and a couple commercials! Along with these, she has been the class representative for French for the past three years. Her siblings inspire her most, “I have never loved anything so much in my entire life, and they push me to be my best self. I just want to make them proud.” She describes the most special thing about her to be love: “I’ve been surrounded by love my whole life, and even when it was absent, I found love by giving love to others. I like to tell myself that love doesn’t disappear, and when none is given to you, give some away to receive some back in the long run.” As a woman, she has faced obstacles in most aspects of her various ventures. She believes that as a woman obstacles are inevitable and frequently people assume that women “just can’t do it.” However, she takes power in this. After being called numerous sexist slurs and dealing with sexism in the form of mansplaining, she finds empowerment “because, ‘sir, you’re talking to someone who can out-debate you, so I suggest you keep your comments to yourself.’” Her final message is: “You can do ANYTHING. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I’m not saying it to sound cliche, but seriously. Your ambitions are in your brain and your heart. If someone says you’re “too emotional,” then GREAT. Use that emotion to show them who the HBIC is. (Urban Dictionary HBIC.)”

Emma Mendelssohn

Emma is your “average 16-year-old girl” the main difference is that she had a liver transplant last year and is currently doing her best to live life to the fullest. On a daily basis, her donor inspires her to reach for her goals. A near experience with death has given her a different perspective on life. She’s noticed that many live their lives for tomorrow but she lives for today: “it took almost dying to realize I’d been living my life wrong, for 15 years.” The best way she can describe doing this is: “Watch the sunset and the sunrise, go out with your friends. Stop thinking about tomorrow, or worrying about college. Life can be taken away at any time, and everyone runs out of time eventually. You don’t want to run out of time thinking about what could’ve been, so just go for it. Live your life, because the pain goes away, regret doesn’t. So just yolo the freakin heck out of your life!”

Stormy Mercado

Stormy was a shift leader for and volunteered at Kaiser Permanente for 3 years. She has been on Las Lomas Cheer for 3 years and was head captain her enior year. As an honors student, she has kept good grades her whole life. In her sophomore year, she started a club called Asian Affiliation, which over 100 students have signed up for. She aspires to help others live better lives: “In college, I want to major in nursing and plan on furthering my career by becoming a NICU nurse. With my career, I want to travel back home to the Philippines and to other countries and help people in need and give them the care they deserve”. She is motivated by the idea that there are people in need that can’t access the health care they require because they can’t afford it. As a woman, she feels that generally women are underestimated, “Women are such strong and amazing people. Never underestimate the power of a woman”

Isabel Shic

Isabel’s primary focus this year has been playing the trombone. She is a part of our Las Lomas jazz band and wind ensemble, as well as the Diablo Wind Symphony and Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra. In addition, she participated in our county’s annual honor band. There, she was awarded a scholarship! This summer she has also been invited to attend a music institute. Outside of schoolwork and band, she volunteers in Key Club, an international organization. As a member of our division’s (DIVISION 26 SOUTH!) leadership team, she helps to establish a media presence. Isabel doesn’t struggle as much with being a woman, but more with being herself: “Honestly, my biggest obstacle has always been myself. My insecurities and low-self esteem have kept me from stepping out of my comfort zone. Particularly as an Asian-American woman, I have struggled with identifying myself with a group of, for example, white men.” Overall, she has impacted Las Lomas’ community in more than one way!

Caroline Lannes

Caroline is aspiring to be a film director and screenwriter. Overall film is dominated by powerful men. She expressed that oftentimes production heads don’t believe in female stories: “Breaking into the film industry is extremely hard as it is, so by being a woman it just adds another barrier”. She has found especially concerning the amount of information coming out about the women who’ve been sexually assaulted by these same powerful men. She is proud of what she has achieved but is most looking forward to what is to come: “I am going to SDSU for film production so I hope I can make more professional short films there. I’m extremely proud of my short film And She Was, which almost has 1,000 views!” Search “caroline&kaitlyn” films on youtube to watch!

Ms. Heckmann

Ms. Heckmann originally became a teacher to better the high school experience. Her goal now as a teacher is to make learning enjoyable so that students ‘thirst’ for knowledge and desire to continue learning.  Her personal goals include being a published author. She wrote a book several years ago about her animals and some funny childhood stories that she would love to publish. Generally, she isn’t inspired by just one thing “ My parents always instilled in my brother and me to do our very best on each of our endeavors.  So, I guess one might say it was my upbringing that inspires me. I try always to do my best each and every day…on EVERY task before me”. As a woman, she doesn’t face discrimination “The biggest obstacle is typically people’s attitudes and beliefs. We limit ourselves with our own thinking. We are often our greatest obstacle”. She is most proud of the impact she has on her students, she does her best to make sure each of them knows she cares about them as more than just students. She also guarantees that she will do her best every day (a momentous commitment): “I try to be positive and ‘lead by example’.  I try to show my students positivity and dedication and create a classroom environment that is supportive and friendly to all”. Her ultimate message is to “believe in oneself and to chase one’s dreams and to realize that there is more than one path to one’s goals. Sometimes in life, we are forced to take a detour, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reach our ultimate destination” and wishes LL had a petting zoo.

Ally McKay

Ally is a super artist. Over her painting career, she has done three public works, including a painted piano downtown. Ally has worked at an art studio for three years and recently was promoted to a teaching position for summer classes. Her number one goal is to become an illustrator because her passion is cartoons. Graphic design is a male-dominated field however which Ally recognizes and comments, “It’s really hard in graphic design. If you’re a woman you need to be REALLY good to be seen as ‘fine’” She is proud of how far she has come and promises to never stop working as her artistic talent grows every day.

Emma Casey

Emma is a Senior at Las Lomas who participates in Leadership and student government. As an aspiring woman her goals are to get a business degree, eventually earn her MBA, and then work somewhere like a federal reserve. She is consistently dedicated to improving herself. She’s an honors student with a rigorous course schedule and still makes time to train for half marathons and invest her babysitting money in the stock market. When she’s not running or doing school work she is the tennis team and soccer team captain and spends her time mentoring younger students. As a woman, she believes women need to be lifted up by each other, “Women who have achieved success should make an effort to help other women who are just at the start of their careers… a lot of the change should come from people in the industry themselves”.

Melanie Quan

Melanie’s passion lies in her love for environmental science. Through science fair projects, Outdoor Ed, and everyday California biodiversity Melanie has been able to thrive and achieve many of her goals. These achievements include a low cost water filter, a filtration technique for microplastics in soil, and creating a new type of plastic from waste products of algal biofuels. This has led to recognition from companies like California Life Sciences Institute, East Bay Municipal Utility District/ Contra Costa Water District, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Air Force Research Laboratory, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In the future, she hopes to be able to use her work on research to influence environmental policy, invent environmentally friendly products, and promote the widespread use of sustainable practices. Melanie is most motivated by the sights she’s seen through travel: “I have seen first-hand how countries in poverty are significantly more impacted by the wasteful ways that society uses natural resources compared to developed countries, leading to extreme pollution and degradation of living standards for the people affected. Knowing the impact that my work can have to potentially aid people in their daily lives encourages me to pursue my various goals.” She also believes that the potential women bring to STEM is undeniable “Women bring valuable perspectives and ideas to all fields, but in STEM, these new perspectives are not only good for the industry, but results in more innovation/progress for society as a whole.”

Alexandra (Mimi) Mele

Throughout Mimi’s three-and-a-half years at Las Lomas, she has participated in extracurricular athletics, clubs, paid work, and volunteer work. She’s spent most of her community service time with the White Pony Express and helping Las Lomas’s own students succeed through free peer tutoring. Her academic awards include National Hispanic Scholar, National Merit Commended Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction Award, and President’s Award for Educational Excellence. She was raised to believe there is no substitute for hard work, therefore her passion and drive motivate her. Overall she is aiming for a medical career and to a better life for her and her family, “I suppose that, in the words of Beyoncé, my aspiration in life would be to be happy. I hope to further my education and achieve a successful career in the medical field to pursue my interests and support my family.”

Emily Xie 

Emily recently developed an app, EverySecond, for which she won the 2020 Congressional App Challenge. In the future, she hopes to study more about computer science and neuroscience and use that knowledge to create fun and socially beneficial projects. Her friends inspire her most, “They’re all so motivated and unique, so I’m inspired to find my own goals and interests”. Emily feels that companies are actually getting better in creating a more diverse environment, “California has started to become more diversity-conscious in male-dominated fields (like computer science), so many companies and organizations are supporting and accepting more women.”

Katie Wilson 

Katie is a Junior at Las Lomas. In her three years, she has played water polo (JV freshman-sophomore year, Varsity junior year), done 680 club water polo in the winter, and swam on the JV swim team through high school. She’s been active in the church for the past 4 years: serving at Church of the Resurrection, youth group, and was confirmed last June. She’s been to various volunteering trips in places including Sonoma, Louisiana, and this summer to Paradise with other youth from Episcopal churches around the Bay Area. During the summer she is going to be a representative of the Diocese of California at the Episcopal Youth Event in Washington DC. Overall, her upbringing is what has pushed her most: “My parents and brothers have always pushed me to strive for the best possible outcome. From my parents, I’ve developed a really strong sense of motivation and I also know not to worry or stress if I fail, I can always work harder the next time.” Katie does believe that women are expected to do less and finds it difficult to push herself even when she’s not expected to do as much or as well.

Ms. Dáve

Ms. Dáve has been a teacher for a total of 15 years. This is her second year in AUHSD and her first year at Las Lomas. She worked as a newspaper reporter for about 7 years, publishing more than 200 stories, and earning two press awards. After changing her career she became a New York City Teaching fellow and earned a second Master’s degree in secondary education at Pace University. When she finds herself special because “I am a proud Indian American woman and the first one to be born in the U.S. in my family. I’m bilingual; I cook kick butt Indian food; I have a strong singing voice and know how to dance to bhangra music.” As a woman and especially as an Indian woman Dáve has experienced discrimination of every kind: “People have judged me for everything and based their decisions on such stereotypes. I have been scrutinized for my clothing; the scent of spices in my hair; my beliefs; my choice to be a vegetarian. Luckily, I have still found ways to be successful in academics and in the workplace though recently, I came to the realization that a strong, minority female in the workplace is sometimes threatening for certain people because they rock the boat of equity and equality, which the “machine” wholeheartedly opposes.” She has a lot to be proud of and she has earned and worked for everything she’s gotten, “I strongly believe I have achieved the American Dream. I have fought hard for my education and I believe it has paid off. I never went after the money, rather my passions and I felt nothing but stimulated in all the jobs I have had in my life, not to mention met incredible people along the way!” She advises that as women it is best to “always speak your truth as a woman and NEVER settle for the second-best of anything in life”.