We invite you to watch the video above, or read the transcript below, to learn more about Michala Maciolek and her Mercy Mindset! The interview is conducted by current eighth grade students Elaina C. and Jaron M.
Joe Leonard, teacher: It is with great pleasure that I introduce Michaela Maciolek in our Mercy Mindset series. Michaela is a 2013 graduate of Waldron, a 2017 graduate of the Agnes Irwin School, and currently a scholar athlete and senior at Syracuse University. Michaela's gifts as an athlete were so evident to me when she was in 7th and 8th grade that I recruited her -- unsuccessfully I might add -- to play on the boys varsity baseball team. As a 9th grader Michaela was so talented that she signed a letter of intent (as a freshman in high school) to play college softball at Syracuse University. But we are not here to talk about Michaela's athletic prowess; we are here to talk about Michaela’s heart. While she is prodigiously talented on the field, Michaela is an even better person off of it, as you will see in her interview with 8th graders Elena and Jaron.
I have such fond memories of teaching Michaela in 7th grade English. She brought great enthusiasm to class, maintained a great work ethic, exuded joy, and displayed kindness. I specifically recall debating the merits of Ms. Olinski in E.L. Konigsburg’s novel The View from Saturday.
I consider myself fortunate to count among her former teachers.
Jaron M, current eighth grader: Hi Michala, my name is Jaron and I attend Waldron Mercy Academy. I’m in eighth grade and I plan to attend St. Joe’s Prep for high school.
Michala Maciolek Class of 2013: Nice, congratulations!
Elaina C., current eighth grader: Hi Michala, my name is Elaina. I also attend Waldron. I’ve been going here for 11 years and I’m planning on going to Merion.
Michala: Nice. I went to Waldron for 11 years, too.
Elaina: Oh, wow.
Jaron: My first question is, what year did you come to Waldron and what grade did you enter?
Michala: So I came to Waldon when I was three years old. I came in Montessori and stayed for 11 years and graduated in 2013.
Elaina: What high school and college did you attend?
Michala: I went to The Agnes Irwin School and for college, I’m currently a senior at Syracuse University.
Jaron: What do you plan to do with your career after college?
Michala: So, after I graduate I’m going to be working full time for J.P. Morgan Chase in their Delaware offices.
Jaron: How did you choose that firm?
Michala: I guess what I liked about it the most -- besides the culture, it’s a great culture, there are lots of opportunities worldwide -- they have great corporate social responsibility. They love the community, they give back to the community, and I wanted to be part of that and have the opportunity to make a difference.
Elaina: Is there any particular teacher or coach who inspired or influenced you, and if so in what way?
Michala: I feel like every teacher or coach I’ve had at Waldron has definitely inspired me and has definitely taught me a lot of things that I still use. I would say Ms. Pierce, now Mrs. Stricklan, she taught me a lot of life lessons and she taught my class a lot of life lessons. Mr. Leonard, he taught me how to write and I kind of fell in love with reading and writing after being in his class. I’d say the teacher that inspired me the most is Mrs. Gannon. She has the ability to walk into any room and light it up with her smile. She has such a contagious, positive attitude that I’ve, you know, always wanted to do the same as she does.
Jaron: When you think about outreach and service at Waldron Mercy, do you have a specific memory that you remember?
Michala: Wow...we did so many different outreach programs and a lot of community service. I would say my favorite was the H.O.P.E. Lunches [Helping Other People Eat]. Every single Wednesday, we’d be able to bring a lunch in. I remember when I was really young I would decorate the bags. It was great because I loved how every Wednesday, we had the opportunity to make somebody else’s day better and to put a smile on someone’s face, and to just make a difference in someone’s life.
Elaina: How did the Mercy values instilled in you at Waldron affect the person you are today?
Michala: Waldron definitely helped shape me into the person I am today, especially the Mercy values that were instilled in me. I would say that the most I remember is kind of that idea of do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Just going out every day, being a good person, being the best person you can be, treating others the right way with kindness and forgiveness and compassion even if they don’t return the favor.
Jaron: From reading about you, it seems that you’ve been very active in sports. How do athletic experiences align with the Mercy values instilled in you at Waldron Mercy Academy?
Michala: Yeah, so I’ve always been an athlete my whole life. I even played softball here at Syracuse. I’ve always tried to give back to the communities and the organizations that I’ve been a part of for softball. Especially mentoring the younger kids, especially through the college recruiting process which can be really difficult. Helping them through those mental blocks that sometimes you get on the field. And also….just the idea of compassion. Having compassion for your teammates if they mess up, if they’re struggling or they need help, just being a good teammate for them. As well as having compassion for yourself. This took me a long time to actually develop but...sports is a game of failure, right? You’re not going to make every shot, you’re not always going to get on base every time, and just kind of realizing that and realizing that don’t beat yourself up, you’re not perfect, and you’re going to miss a shot and it’s ok.
Elaina: It also seems that you do a lot of volunteering. Tell us about that.
Michala: So I volunteered a lot in high school, but I can mostly talk about college. Right now, I’m a part of Enactus, it’s a non-profit organization that has a lot of different community service aspects. The group that I belong to, we help veterans build websites and different business plans for their various business ventures. I also tutor students and I take notes for students with disabilities.
Jaron: Do you see yourself continuing to become engaged in opportunities that work to spread Mercy? If so, in what ways?
Michala: Yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever stop giving back to the community. It’s something that Waldron instilled in me and it’s something that is so important to me. When I start working I plan to keep giving back through J.P. Morgan and all the communities that they’re a part of and to do my role into giving back to the communities and making every community that I’m a part of better.
Elaina: What advice would you give the current students at Waldron Mercy?
Michala: I would probably say -- now, this took me a really long time to figure it out, but when you figure it out early you’ll benefit -- is to look at every day as an opportunity. Instead of looking at every day as “ugh, I have to wake up early, I have to go to school, and I have to do all my homework,” change that mindset to “I have the opportunity to wake up and go to an amazing school, and God gave me another day to make a difference, and I’m going to make a difference today.” And just change that mindset from “I have to” to “I can” or “I have the opportunity to” is really going to help you have a lot of success in the future.
Elaina: That’s great advice, thank you.
Michala: Of course!
Jaron: Thank you, Michala, for joining us today.
Michala: Of course, thank you guys.
Elaina: I had a great time interviewing you.
Michala: Good luck, enjoy your last couple -- month or so at Waldron.
Elaina: Thank you.
Jaron: Thank you.