Determination, with a Smile

Michelle Lewis is unstoppable. A fighter with an infectious personality, this Gardena, Calif., native is going places.

A senior at the University of San Diego, Lewis is pursuing a degree in behavioral neuroscience and a minor in leadership. In addition, she also works in the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, is on staff with Residential Life, has been involved in the USD Panhellenic Council, and is a member of Alpha Delta Pi.

This past November, Lewis was chosen from among more than 20 nominees to be USD’s undergraduate 2017 Woman of Impact. A humbling and surprising experience for Lewis, this Torero credits her winning smile and funny jokes for making this possible.

“Who doesn’t like to laugh? I really think it’s just because I treat people with respect and listen to them. I make sure I say 'hi' and smile at everyone I meet,” says Lewis. “You never know what someone is going through and [how] a little smile can improve someone’s day.”

It’s this vibrant personality and supportive nature that motivates Lewis in all she does. Growing up, she credits her parents’ dedication and encouragement for making her the young woman she is today.

“They have not only paid for my education, but have supported me in my interests. If I wanted to do karate, they were there helping me practice my moves. If I wanted to dance, they made sure I got to my practices and recitals. My parents always made time for me. That type of support has allowed me to thrive.”

It is that support that has gotten Lewis to this point in her life, but it is her determination to serve others that is propelling her forward.

“As a black woman, I understand what it can feel like to be marginalized or feel that your needs are not important,” she says. “I strive to never make anyone feel that way and do what I can to ensure others feel welcomed.”

Lewis’ desire to bring people together has translated into the initiatives she has worked on while at USD. Everything from partnering with organizations such as Torero Programs Board and PRIDE to working with Student Wellness and the Department of Public Safety, all to bring different communities together and help everyone feel included and valued.

For Lewis, the key is embracing those around us. “More than ever, we need to open our ears and hearts. When we place ourselves in someone else’s shoes, the world becomes a lot clearer.”

As a senior, Lewis is looking ahead to her next chapter, which will include pursuit of a Doctor of Nursing Practice. This woman of impact hopes to use her education to provide health care services to low-income areas, making a difference on a community-wide level and positively impacting others’ lives.

For this Changemaker, the future is an adventure. Where it goes and what it entails is unknown. How she wants to approach it? She’s got that figured out. With a big smile.

­— Allyson Meyer ‘16


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