Ran has taken part in a variety of service opportunities throughout
her high school career. Courtesy photo
By Meghan McLaughlin
Michelle Ran, Bothell High School graduate and incoming Northwestern University student, was named the Northshore School District (NSD) Wall of Honor recipient for community service and humanitarian scholarship. Ran’s service experience focuses on mental health issues and includes a long list of causes and organizations she’s affiliated with.
“It’s heartbreaking how society overlooks the problems of people with mental illness,” Ran said. “I want to change society’s perspective on mental illness because not only will it be beneficial for the patients themselves, but also because we’ll be able to connect more, sympathize with these patients and help them together.”
Ran created a nonprofit organization called Child’s Wish Foundation to support impoverished boarding schools in China. Ran was inspired to co-found the organization after an internship at the University of Hong Kong, where she met co-founder Nancy Xiao. Xiao was a Ph.D. student studying preschool-aged children in boarding schools.
“The boarding school experience was very detrimental to the mental health of these little children because they were separated from their families and there aren’t a lot of resources or opportunities for them,” Ran said. “We wanted to create this nonprofit to raise money to buy more educational resources and build a better environment for them to learn, play and grow in, like other preschoolers.”
Ran also served as an escort volunteer at the University of Washington (UW) Medical Center before the pandemic cut her volunteer career there short.
“I’m interested in the medical field, so that experience was really fun,” Ran said. “Seeing all the doctors and nurses—I’ve always wanted to be like them. I look up to them and all that they do.”
Last spring, Ran took advantage of her UW Medical Center connections and sent letters to healthcare workers with Bothell High School’s National Honors Society chapter. She also tutored for TEAM United, a Washington-based tutoring organization, to help students who fell behind during online instruction.
While visiting her father in Hong Kong over the summer, Ran volunteered as a daycare assistant for underprivileged children. She developed a dance-and-sing-along program where Ran led students in English nursery rhymes and songs.
“I think that made them love English in a way,” Ran said. “They didn’t seem to find it boring anymore. It was inspiring to me to see how I could make a difference.”
Over the summer, Ran and a friend taught middle school students virtual psychology classes, during a camp they developed. Ran said she spent most of her summer writing an article for the Young Scientist’s Journal entitled, “Changing the Public’s Perspective on Mental Illness.”
During her high school career, Ran amassed over 200 hours of community service. She was granted the Volunteer Service Award from the National Honors Society, actively participated in Future Business Leaders of America, transcribed TED Talks in English and Chinese, worked at the North Helpline Food Bank and played first-violin in the school orchestra. Despite her multitude of accomplishments, Ran remains humble and is grateful for the opportunities given her.
The wall of honor, located on the north end of Pop Keeney Stadium, will soon bear Ran’s name, along with over 100 past inductees that have been honored since its unveiling in 2010. The NSD Wall of Honor Induction ceremony occurs at the stadium on Thursday, Aug. 12, at 6 p.m. The celebration will honor inductees of both 2020 and 2021.
Ran plans on studying neuroscience on the pre-medicine track at Northwestern University, where she will begin this fall. She hopes to continue doing community service for organizations and expand on her commitment to those with mental health issues.
“I just really hope things can change in the future so that those who are afraid to seek help finally get the help they deserve and need to get better,” Ran said.