Helping Others is Second Nature for this Star Senior

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This story is part of a series of profiles the Ventura County Office of Education is presenting about outstanding graduating seniors in the Class of 2021.

Bella2Some students give back to their communities by providing holiday gifts for families in need. Others volunteer at animal shelters or for blood drives. And others join community recycling campaigns to help the environment. Bella Francisco, a graduating senior from Westlake High School, has done all of those things and more during her high school career. And she kept giving back even when her family suffered a major trauma of their own.

Just before her junior year, Bella’s father lost his seven-year battle with colon cancer. To get through the pain, she surrounded herself with family and friends who she could talk with openly. “That really helped me let out my emotions so I didn’t have to keep it inside,” she says. “It was a healthy way of grieving for me.”

Bella also got an emotional boost from the feeling that comes from being a force for good. She says one of her most meaningful volunteer activities was making sure kids from low-income families had gifts for the holidays. “During that time, families in need want their kids to have fun and not worry about finances," she says. "It felt really good to make their holidays less stressful by giving them gifts for their kids.”

class-of-2021In addition to her volunteer work, Bella took a rigorous course load and was on the Westlake cheerleading team for three of her four years of high school. She often served as a mentor to the younger members of the team.

As she prepares to receive her diploma, Bella wants to thank her school counselor Amy Kirksey. “She would always let me know she was there for me if I was struggling with classes or personal things.” Mrs. Kirskey says she knows Bella will continue leaving the world a better place than she found it. “Bella is a natural leader, a kind soul, a world thinker, and someone that will make a change for the better for others in her immediate life and in any community she is a part of.”

This fall, Bella will be studying chemistry at the honors college at the University of Colorado Boulder. She’s considering a career as a physician’s assistant, which draws on her love of science and her desire to help others.

When graduation day arrives, Bella knows her dad will be on her mind. “I’ll probably be a little emotional that day. I know all he wanted was for me to succeed, and I want to thank him for encouraging me,” she says. “I’m sure he’d be super proud of me.”


More Stories about the Ventura County Class of 2021