Middle College HS at HCC Fraga senior shows resilience on path to graduation

Before Mykayla Clark-Jolivet could begin her high school career at Middle College High School at HCC Fraga, her home was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. This was the first of many challenges she would face on her way to graduating.

Clark-Jolivet and her family left their mold-ruined house to live in a hotel for three months.

“I left a lot of memories behind,” Clark-Jolivet said. “I was constantly late to school because the hotel was across town.”

Still, she attended her classes and strived to become a more open person. She wanted high school to be different than her middle school experience, which did not include any friends.

Clark-Jolivet soon found fellow classmates who were also fans of anime and K-pop. But despite her new friends, she began to suffer from depression during her sophomore year. She struggled to find the motivation to get out of bed and go to school.

“My mental state was all over the place,” Clark-Jolivet said. “It was a heart-wrenching time for me.”

At the start of her senior year, Clark-Jolivet was failing many of her classes. Then the district closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and online instruction proved to be even harder for her.

“But I got a chance to come back and become a better me,” Clark-Jolivet said of graduating this year. “All of my time here definitely made me a stronger person.”

Clark-Jolivet celebrated this milestone Friday, alongside her teachers and friends.

The Middle College Class of 2020 joined thousands of Houston-area graduating seniors for the City of Houston’s Citywide Graduation Celebration. They sat in distanced chairs to simultaneously watch a video in which national and local celebrities wished them well.

Middle College students also listened to words of encouragement from staff and fellow students.

“I want you to come back and talk to other students about your challenges and how you were able to overcome them,” Middle College Principal Jose Santos said. “Everybody here has a story that can motivate others to do great things. I’m so proud of you.”

Salutatorian Gilberto Gaspar, who received a Marvy Finger scholarship and plans to pursue a biomedical engineering degree, said he knows others may not have the same support that he does.

“It might be harder for some of you to be able to do this,” Gaspar said. “It’s all up to you, but I believe in every one of you. You can achieve your dreams.”

Clark-Jolivet received the Superintendent Scholar Award and $1,500 scholarship. This recognition is awarded to graduating seniors who exemplify great character and resilience in the face of adversity.

“My family has been through so many ups and downs, financially, so I’m really grateful for this,” Clark-Jolivet said.