Life has been best lived with others in mind for East Central High School’s Mayra Morales.
“I’m always about giving,” she said.
From routinely giving blood to noticing someone alone, homeless and in need and stepping in to help.
“I just like knowing that I saved a life, or helped to save a life," Mayra said. “When I used to work at Golden Corral, they throw away all the food. They throw away every single thing, and I just felt so bad, so I asked my boss if he would let me take a little to-go box.”
Mayra’s compassion for others has always driven her forward. She never expected something in return, she did it simply because she wanted to be the example for how we should treat others.
“I think about others a lot, like how people feel and stuff. I just wouldn’t want to feel like that, and I hope that if I were to ever go through something like that I would have 'a me' for myself,” she said.
Mayra has always been one to rise to the occasion. She’s overcome family tragedies and trials while holding down two jobs and being a full-time high school student.
"My parents are getting older, I would like to be responsible for my own things,” she said. “I just don’t want to be a burden on top of the problems they already have.”
So, Monday to Friday Mayra worked three days a week, and when the weekend came, while other students were on the couch, Mayra was on her feet.
“No ifs, ands, or buts...11 hours, standing on the weekends," she said.
She said it taught her responsibility, how to manage time, money, and rude customers.
"You honestly just have to brush it off and keep that happy good attitude with them. I mean, it doesn’t cost anything to be nice, but you should be nice instead of bitter,” she said.
Mayra has also excelled at school.
“I want to make my parents proud, that’s one of my main goals. Other than that, I just strive to be great,” she said.
“If you look at the academic load she has carried over these years, I mean, she’s had no fewer than four college-level AP courses every year. You know, I mean, I told her just the other day there are a lot of paths through school, and she’s taken the hardest, most challenging one, and worked jobs and had all these others things going on outside, and that would be hard for any of us to do,” Brian Stone said.
She also took on two college-level concurrent enrolment classes, got straight-As almost every year, and was in National Honor Society. Mayra hopes to be an example for future Cardinals.
“Excel towards not being the best, but just have good grades. Because I’m salutatorian, I wasn’t even trying I just turn in my work,” she said.
“This young lady is awesome. I am so proud of Mayra. She has done an excellent job here,” teacher Jackie Portman said.
Jackie encourages Mayra to keep pushing forward.
“Go for it! That’s the only advice I have. Take everything you got and go for it. Don’t quit,” she said.
The same is true for her Assistant Principal Brian Stone.
“I just think she is amazing. I just think she is a great example of what a student can do when they really decide to improve their life,” he said.
As she looks to the future, Mayra remains grounded in the simple secrets of life.
“It is important for me to get a good paying job, but mostly a job that I like. I want to be happy at my job,” she said.
While she’s unsure how she will pay her way through school, Mayra is determined to continue to be a light even in the darkest of places.
“I know that the world doesn’t treat you, maybe, the way you treat others, but it’s just nice to be kind,” she said.