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Keyes girl knows keys to success start with education
At 11 years old, MacKylah Miles has seen and overcome more poverty and instability in her life than most people will even dream of enduring in their lives.

While they can't be sure, teachers and administrators at Keyes Elementary School have said that she has been homeless, lived in a car and often they believe her only meal comes on campus. MacKylah is the eldest of three children, and with the father out of the picture her mother has struggled to provide for her family. Currently the family has stabilized, but for all of the instability in her young life, one thing for MacKylah has always been stable; her school and her extremely high level of confidence and intelligence.

A fifth-grader at Keyes, MacKylah gets nearly straight A's in her classes. She is the student body vice-president and loves reading, history and math. Recently MacKylah was honored, along with several other area students, by local politicians and leaders during the "Every Student Succeeding" program held in Modesto. Every Student Succeeding honors students who have overcome and succeeded against challenges, have gone beyond expectations and have won the hearts of their teachers and staff. The honor is given by the Association of School Administrators Stanislaus Charter, the County Office of Education, Mosce Credit Union and Gallo Winery.

"I just don't know how she can do it," said Mackylah's fifth-grade teacher Stacy Knight. "With all that she goes through, she chooses to rise above it and look past the challenges she's had and overcome them."

Talking to Mackylah, it is easy to be taken aback at her level of maturity, her use of vocabulary, articulation and mostly her confidence.

Perhaps what is even more impressive about her is that she realizes she has been dealt a rough hand but she realized what she needs to do to overcome that hand.

"Without education and applying myself now it's really hard later on and if I do what I can now it will make things easier for me as I go on," she said.

When asked what drives her to succeed in life despite what obstacles she has faced she responded "as long as you keep trying and keep going things will eventually get better. It makes me think about what I want for my future and what I want to do and how I want to live when I get there."

MacKylah wants to be a veterinarian and she is also considering being a reporter/ writer.

"She has a great vocabulary and she is a voracious reader of books. She's a go-getter, she is extremely reliable and she helps other kids in the class too," said Knight.

Keyes participates in the Pennies for Patients program where children donate coins for cancer patients. MacKylah is often leading the drive and encouraging kids to bring in coins from home. "Even though she may not even have coins to bring in herself, she has so much compassion for others and she encourages her classmates," said Knight, who co-nominated her. Keyes principal Cynthia Schaefer also nominated MacKylah for the award.

In MacKylah's free time she and her best friend Natasha like to write stories about the life and activities of animals, from the animal's perspective. They also enjoy acting like TV news reporters.