Between the summer of her sophomore and junior years in high school, Malvika (Mahi) Shriwas moved with her parents from Salt Lake City to Spokane.
She says she tried to make friends at her new school, but everyone there already had their circles of friends. It was a struggle and eventually her studies began to suffer. Mahi lived close enough to go home at lunchtime where she could visit with her mom, and that helped her. She wanted to be home-schooled in her senior year, which was an idea not embraced in her native India, but then a friend happened to mention the Running Start program at Spokane Falls Community College.
She applied, was accepted, and began school at SFCC in fall quarter 2016.
“I feel as if the Falls gave me a second chance at life, socially and academically,” Mahi said. “I started here at 17 and got involved right away in the International Club and then later in the Service Learning Club.”
She graduated from high school at the end of her first year at SFCC, and will finish her associate’s degree in computer science in June and then transfer to a university.
This year she is president of the Associated Student Government, which is a 17-member team of students.
“At first I thought student government was just about running events, but it is so much more. It is very fulfilling,” Mahi said.
Mahi had wanted to be involved in class leadership earlier in life but didn’t have the opportunity. She attended school in India until she was age 12, and then was in Salt Lake City from eighth grade through 10th grade. The available leadership positions there seemed more like popularity contests and she didn’t think she would win one of those.
But shortly after arriving at SFCC she became the treasurer of the International Club and then the vice president. She moved on to be the vice president of the Service Learning Club and then last year she served as a senator for student government. “The ASG positions are filled through an application process not student elections,” Mahi said, which she feels gave her more of a chance.
The leadership positions have taught her to be more aware, accountable and responsible for what she says and does, Mahi said. She has learned a lot this year about teamwork, team dynamics and even about conflict management.
Mahi recently traveled to the state capitol in Olympia with three others to talk with state legislators’ staff about the needs of college students. The experience gave her a feeling of accomplishment.
“If there are other students in high school having a hard time, they might think about trying college with Running Start,” Mahi said. “I felt very welcome here from the beginning, and it is so big you will find your niche here.”