Pali High Alums Help Underserved Students Get Into College

By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter

Putting kids through college is a life event for both child and parent. For students, great pressure is put on them from the early stages of high school to ensure their acceptance into college. For parents, the worry of paying rising tuitions is never ending.

In hopes of relieving some of this pressure,  Determined to Succeed set out to guide underserved students from the ninth-grade and craft a path to success into college.

But when the organization started, it quickly became apparent that students also needed health and wellness resources. That’s where Palisadian Carmen Margaziotis came in.

When Mimi Neandross, a fellow Palisades Charter High School alum, took over as director of the organization, she knew just who to call to provide such a service.

Margaziotis, who runs her own mental health acupuncture practice in the Palisades, was asked to help the organization with a student who suffered from depression and became suicidal. When her care helped get the child back on track, they knew it was a necessity.

“They started sending me more kids that just needed help,” Margaziotis said. “So I came in and I helped kids manage their stress, their anxiety. I teach them about nutrition, I teach them how to meditate and just really make sure that their mental health is totally supported so that they can get through all of the academic stuff they need to do to get to college.”

What started as an “every-now-and-then” consultation turned into a permanent position where she has worked with the students ever since.

When asked what she hopes will be the future of Determined to Succeed, Margaziotis said, “We would love for it to be replicated nationwide.” She said that her division is one of the first two groups to have incorporated a health and wellness angle into everything they do.

“[The kids] haven’t necessarily been brought up in a culture where it’s organic to express yourself, but I think there is great relief when they know, ‘Oh, here’s someone that I could go to with all this stuff.’”

Outside of her work with students, Margaziotis is spreading mental health tips and information for everyone via self-help articles and an upcoming new book on managing stress.

Determined to Succeed’s annual fundraiser will come to the Palisades on Oct. 4.