The Silent Servant Scholarship Award is a $500 award given to high school students for empathy and community service. It is run by the Peter R. Marsh Foundation and students in all U.S. states are eligible. Marilyn Muñoz, a Franklin High School sophomore, was nominated for this award by her health teacher, Kisa Henrich. Unsurprisingly to many, Muñoz is now a recent recipient, alongside Franklin seniors Avani Stevens Rose and Lucy Eckel. These students will be honored at a future date, but in the meantime, The Franklin Post has chosen to spotlight Muñoz and her dedication to equity and advocacy.
“Marilyn was the first student that came to mind,” Henrich states, referring to when she first heard about the award. “[When] I started filling it out, things kept on reminding me that I had made the right choice.” The award is centered around community service, which is one of the reasons Henrich thought of Muñoz. “She serves the Franklin High School community by being who she is and by advocating,” Henrich explains.
“I’m fighting for my society, my people,” Muñoz says. “I’m Black and so I fight for a certain diaspora of people, but I also know that if you tackle one thing, it will help you to tackle so many others. So it’s for everybody, but most importantly, the Black community.”
Henrich explains further about how Muñoz does this in her class. “She is always contributing to conversations in health, which I think is very important.” As Henrich states, Muñoz questions the way that things are normally done, challenging things that do not have a purpose or don’t make sense. “There’s no real reason to keep doing things the way you always did them, just because you’re comfortable that way. That’s why I am thankful to have a student like [Marilyn].” Oftentimes, curriculums can be outdated or do not address the right things, so, as understandably frustrating as it can be, students who speak up are needed.
Muñoz explains why she is one of these students: “because not everybody else is going to want to, and if one person doesn’t take the initiative to step up and stand up, then nothing ever happens. We get no change.”
Muñoz not only advocates in class, but also uses her voice as a Franklin Talks facilitator and as a part of the Black Student Union (BSU). This allows her to hear other opinions and advocate, and it gives her the opportunity to use her knowledge to educate. “It’s always super cool to get the opportunity to facilitate and advocate for what I already know, and hear my other peers’ opinions and educate from a peer’s point of view,” she explains. She believes that education on many topics can be more effective from a peer than from an adult or teacher; students are often more likely to listen. Franklin Talks and BSU give her space to do these things so she can continue to embody the qualities that led Henrich to nominate her.
In addition, Muñoz explains how much she likes sharing what she knows. “I like giving people that ‘aha’ moment,” she says. As a sophomore, this is especially true, as many people seem to underestimate her and what she knows. “I’m proud of how much I know at my age,” she says. Muñoz knows a lot and is able to use that knowledge to help question the curriculums that are being taught, educate others, and advocate.
Though not everyone is willing to do all of the things Muñoz does, she hopes they eventually will be. “I wish everyone else [would take] the time to do their own research and learn about different things in our community, Portland, and our society” Muñoz states. Learning and advocating is extremely important for our society, and though not everyone will do what Muñoz does, educating yourself is always a great first step.
The importance of Muñoz and her work is beginning to be recognized, and her receiving the Silent Servant Award just reflects this. Muñoz is the type of student to get this award because of everything she does and everyone she is advocating for. “She questions what we are learning and is a great example for other students,” Henrich states. “She’s challenged me and she’s pushed me… that’s exactly the kind of students that we want.” Henrich expands: “She’s out there, using her voice, and advocating for the people who need advocating for. I can’t think of a better candidate.”