Student Body President Lloyda Palacios is learning Korean, her third language, at Mervyn M. Dymally Academy for Multilingual Arts and Sciences. At this high school, most of the teachers are bilingual, and the principal, who is African-American, speaks rapid-fire Spanish.
“It’s exciting to learn another language besides the one you hear at home, and the one you use at school,” Palacios said. ”It forces your brain to work a different part of your mind.”
Born in El Salvador, she moved to Southern California when she was six. “Spanish is my first language, my first culture.“ She’s open to exploring others – including American Sign Language, which she is studying after school at Los Angeles Southwest College, along with a communications course. She returns to the community college on Saturdays for robotics.
Dymally High School Principal Simone Charles describes her as a true leader. “LLoyda is an independent thinker and a go-getter. She is one of those students that if you just give a spark to her, she will make it into a flame…and she speaks pretty good Korean.”
She got plenty of practice during a field trip to Koreatown in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles. “We visited galleries, sampled the food, and learned to use chopsticks. I was pretty good.”
This senior is pretty good at many things—especially in the classroom. She has a 3.997 GPA despite a heavy course load that includes Advance Placement English, chemistry and human geography classes plus economics, weightlifting and instrumental music where she is starting to play the trumpet. At home, she averages four to six hours of homework a night.
At school, she juggles classes and her leadership responsibilities, which include providing service. In the library, on a recent Friday, she handed out programs to guests who attended the unveiling of a bronze statue of Mervyn Dymally, the pioneering black elected official for whom the school is named.
Any spare moment she heads to the college and career center, where she got help with 12 applications to universities in California, and the Ivy League. She continues to look for scholarships and financial aid. Princeton is her first choice followed closely by Dartmouth and Brown.
In college, she plans to major in one of the sciences with the goal of becoming a bio-engineer, working with genetics and medicine to improve world health.
“I’ve always been good at science. I never found an interest in it, but science found an interest in me,” she said. In fact, history is her favorite subject.
“I love history because it is interesting how you can reach back in time. If you’re smart, you can learn from that.”
Books are another passion, especially “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas, which she said, ultimately teaches a lesson of perseverance.
She will miss Dymally’s diversity. Still, interested in exploring more of the Korean culture, she is competing to participate in a three-week language program this summer.
“I really want to go to Korea,” Palacios said. She is working hard to make that happen—like every other goal.
To nominate a teacher, student, employee or volunteer, send an email to Thomas.Waldman@lausd.net, or call 213-241-6766. To see more profiles on the Distirct's website, go to http://bit.ly/1Fp25bG