This post is part of the Where Are They Now series in which we hear the stories of long-time Sonlight users who are now thriving young adults.
As a homeschooled student, Megan Simila's family traveled across the U.S. four times and she continued her travels internationally as an adult. She earned an M.A. in Child and Adolescent Counseling at the University of Cambridge in England. After her completion of that course, she taught in an American school in one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico for three years and reached out to children in low-income scenarios. She now lives in Boise, Idaho and works with first generation low-income high school students.
Homeschooled since first grade, Megan found that homeschooling served as a stabilizer in a life of transition. She credits a good grounding in basic philosophy helped her engage diverse ideas in her graduate education. She enjoys traveling the world, volunteering at her church, and teaching.
"Reading about various missionaries who traveled to different cultures made it less scary for me to go overseas. I really appreciate the historical viewpoint Sonlight gives so you can see how cultures have changed over time. It helps you put yourself on a continuum and understand that your culture is not the only culture that has value.
"The philosophies and viewpoints we read in Sonlight helped me even as I did my Master's degree at Cambridge. As I examined various theories, I still referred back to basic philosophies and works of literature I studied with Sonlight. It definitely prepared me for a Cambridge education.
"My passion is to work with low-income students in impoverished areas. I love teaching and the opportunity to impact kids lives for the better.”
Cambridge Grad Helps Low-income Students Forge a Better Future
Now Megan works with a program called Upward Bound for low-income students, and she’s also pursuing a PhD. program through Boise State that will expand on the work she’s doing.
The population she works with are called first generation kids. That means almost all of the students she works with will be the first in their families to attain a college education.
Many of them struggle with difficult family scenarios and she is able to help them with college prep skills, give them math and SAT practice, and just be an advocate. A part of that training includes teaching them how to give back to the community and become a contributing citizen.
“They call me their ‘school mom,’” laughs Megan. “They call me at midnight and know I care. They know they can talk to me about what ’s difficult. This past year I had a student whose dad had been incarcerated and his mom was on drugs, and he was basically homeless for a portion of the year.”
She talks about how it difficult it can be to concentrate on studying when the simple things of life like transportation and safe relationships and shelter are in question. “With just basic living hurdles it’s amazing they can get to school.”
Megan makes sure these students have someone in their corner: “The Bible talks a lot about God's heart for the widow and the orphans ... I just want to have God's heart for these kids.
“My dad is also first generation—only one of seven children in his family to have a college education and he broke that barrier. That inspires me to break that barrier with my students. I want to help them forge a better future.”