PORTLAND, Ore. — Clackamas High School senior Mahina Novoa has great plans for the future.
"This is a pretty big goal, but I'm shooting to become president," she said.
The 18-year-old is on her way. She is the vice president of her school, equity committee chair and serves as one of only two Oregon State Board of Education student advisors. And that’s just scratching the surface of her accomplishments and commitments.
While she’s building the resume for a career in politics, it's her life experiences that have her eager to make change.
"I was living with my mom in a shelter," Novoa said. "We were struggling with domestic violence and just not great situations."
She says she attended more schools than she could count as she and her mom moved from homes to shelters and friends' homes. Just getting to school each day was a challenge, Novoa said.
"I would travel an hour and a half just going to school and an hour and a half going back in Arizona, living with my mom," she said.
At 16, she moved to Oregon from Arizona on her own, determined to get a college education. Last year, she was adopted by her former principal who took her in and has helped her along her journey.
Novoa is applying to colleges this week.
"Nobody makes it to success themselves, just completely by themselves. There's always help," Novoa said. "And for kids, especially my age and younger, they need help. And when it comes to little moments, that's the most altering."
She's getting those moments from Angels in the Outfield, an Oregon nonprofit that helps kids who have experienced trauma, abuse, or crime.
"It’s incredible," said Shannon Kmetic, founder and president of Angels in the Outfield. "This is our eleventh year and I think we've helped over 10,000 children throughout the state of Oregon."
Kmetic is a former deputy district attorney for Clackamas County. After prosecuting the worst sexual abuse case in her career, she said she realized that more had to be done for the young victim and others like her. She decided to tackle the need for helping children after the court process ends.
"Then what happens to the child?" Kemtic said. "I just felt like there was a gap in resources for children and so, what we wanted to do was to provide fun, good experiences for children who fall within our mission."
Novoa came under the Angels' wings when she wrote them a letter earlier this year for help buying a letterman's jacket, which to her, would be a badge of honor for all she's accomplished at Clackamas High School.
"I'm all about showing the Cavs pride," Nova said. "They wrote back saying they would totally sponsor it and not only that, they would pay for my graduation announcements, my cap and gown, and a class ring."
"I think we're probably going to help 400 to 500 children this year actually have a Christmas and, frankly, have a family that's not stressed out that they wouldn't be able to provide that type of experience for their kids," Kmetic said.
Donate now to the KGW Great Toy Drive at kgwtoy.com.