Soccer: Serna is heard loud and clear

Anzar High senior striker Michelle Serna, left, has made an impact on and off the field.

As Michelle Serna prepared to take the stage to give an eight-minute speech for a TEDx Talk event in San Francisco on Oct. 29, she felt fully prepared. After all, the Anzar High senior had rehearsed her speech so many times that “it didn’t feel special anymore.” However, Serna still felt a rush of adrenaline in the moments before her speech.
“I was so pumped and had never been so excited in my life,” she said. “Then I got on stage and said, ‘Oh no, this was not everything I imagined it to be.’ As soon as I started talking, the only thing I could focus on was the fact that I had a horrible lisp.”
The 17-year-old Serna walked off the stage feeling defeated, only to realize moments later that she had received a standing ovation from the crowd of an estimated 1,800 people.
Ted Talks began in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design (TED) converged, and today covers a variety of topics in more than 100 languages, thus giving the conferences a global reach. Owned by a non-profit, TED’s objective includes sharing ideas around the world to bring about change in a meaningful way.
The fact that Serna got selected to speak at a TEDx event speaks volumes of her aptitude and attitude. What point did Serna want to drive home during her speech?
“That my image has no representation of how I’m feeling,” she said.
Serna based that message off her life experiences, including when she won the title of Miss California High School Rodeo District 4 during her freshman year.
“I was the youngest one in the state competition, and also a size 10 and a Hispanic with long brown hair,” she said. “I’m not your All-American blond hair, blue eye girl, so I faced a lot of adversity. One time, a women I respected (among the judges) said she hated my earrings before telling me, “Michelle, you’re pretty—you’re just not queen pretty.’”
Serna wrote a poignant piece that was posted on the website of Teen Vogue on Nov. 4. Introspective and telling, Serna wrote: “My (TEDx) talk was based around the fact that image is superficial, yet it is also incredibly powerful … This idea that image is what shapes our abilities is hindering our own advancements as a society. The first thing we should think of in the morning is what we will do on that day to make the world a better place, not whether or not our acne is behaving itself that day. A flawless appearance is not a requirement for being a powerful person.”
Serna loves writing because it is a powerful forum that impacts people in a variety of ways.
“Writing is a huge passion of mine,” she said. “I like to move people and make people believe in themselves.”
Serna thought she was an incredible writer “until I took AP (Advanced Placement) English this year and couldn’t score above a six on the AP scale.” Serna started doing soccer, rodeo and horseback riding competitions at an early age, winning a couple of state titles from 2008 to 2010.
“Horses are a huge passion of mine,” Serna said. “There’s something about the animal that regardless of how horrible of a day I’m having, I can get on a horse and have no issues at all.”
Despite having a 3.5 GPA, Serna said she did not achieve her academic potential. But she did complete a ton of extracurricular activities and is hoping the extra work paid off. Her top three college choices include UC Davis, Cal Poly and UC Santa Cruz. Serna credits her parents, Manuel and Lael, for being incredibly supportive and sacrificing a lot of their time to help her grow in so many ways.
“My mom was the perfect soccer mom and with my dad, I’ve never met someone who has worked as hard as he does,” she said.
Serna plays striker alongside her childhood friend, Charlee Tomasini. On the field, Serna plays with an aggressiveness befitting her passion for the game. Off the field, she’s equally intense reflecting her thoughts and goals on life.

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