Student leaves a legacy of caring at her school

September 2, 2019
Llisel Badajos has never been one to shy away from a challenge. “She gets an idea she wants to do something and she doesn’t let her inhibitions hold her back,” said Julia Smith, Half Moon Bay High counselor. As a freshman, Llisel joined the wrestling team. By the time she reached senior year, she was widely considered to be one of the top wrestlers in the region. “She’s really good,” Half Moon Bay High wrestling coach Tom Baker said. “She was one of our team captains this year and just never missed a practice ­­–– was always there, always energetic, always picking up kids that were down.” When asked what she loves about the sport, Llisel had a simple answer. “I love wrestling because it just makes me forget about all my problems,” Llisel said. “It’s helped me take out my anger on all those problems I’ve had in my past.” Llisel grew up in a home where only Spanish was spoken. She took English language development courses through middle school to catch up with her peers. “It wasn’t easy for me to learn English,” Llisel explained. “My parents always felt like they were left out sometimes because they didn’t know how to help me.” Her family also dealt with immense financial struggles. There were times where Llisel feared they might lose their home. But that only strengthened her desire to become a first-generation college student. “My parents never really had the chance to get that education because they never had the money to,” Llisel said. “And I just want to prove to my parents that I can be so much more than just another random student.” On a mission to stand out from her peers, Llisel joined the “One of a Kindness” campaign at Half Moon Bay High, a group of student leaders and advocates tasked with creating a more positive environment at the school. “She stands out in a lot of ways,” Half Moon Bay High Principal John Nazar said. “And a lot of our kids do. But she’s special in many aspects. She’s really selfless. She cares about others. And for a high school student to show that, I think it’s incredible. It’s a sense of joy and a sense of accomplishment that it feels like what we’re doing is worth it.” Llisel is quick to credit her parents for her successes. She said she uses their sacrifices as motivation to become the best version of herself.  Although she graduated from Half Moon Bay High in June, there is no question Llisel has left an indelible mark on campus. “I think Llisel has created a legacy at the high school,” Smith said. “And I think she’s really helped to change the culture at the high school. So while Llisel might be leaving, she’s kind of set this precedent for younger students and definitely a legacy.”
Llisel Badajos will be the first in her family to go to college.

© 2019 Association of California School Administrators