God’s Call to Serve
Deacon Mike Daniels strongly believes in the power of education to change young lives and is always impressed and inspired by children who use education and dedication to break the cycle of poverty. In the 1970s, Mike and his wife Linda moved to San Diego. In 1996, Mike’s life would change forever with a cancer diagnosis. Advised to sell his business and focus on recovery,
Mike did. Once recovered, he realized he needed something to do with his time and talent. Fortunately, God had a plan for that.
Mike undertook the rigorous requirements to become a Deacon in the Catholic Church. Shortly after, in the early 2000s, Mike would join the Board of Trustees for The Monarch School, the only comprehensive K-12 school in the U.S. developed specifically to serve unhoused students and their families. He later met David Rivera, founder of Nativity Prep Academy of San Diego, and offered to volunteer.
When Nativity Prep was just beginning, Deacon Mike saw that he could bring his considerable knowledge and experience to the young program. He shares that he saw immediately that the 11-year commitment was the key. “The middle school is the foundation, where we prepare the students academically for high school, graduate support during the four years of high school is focused on college admission, and the support during college is focused on graduation.” Mike was one of the initial founders of the mentoring program.
Deacon Mike also recognized that the college experience for first-generation students from historically under-resourced communities can be considered fragile. Students can easily be derailed in college because of something unrelated to academics. “It’s never academics that threaten to offload a college career,” he says, “the support the students get from GSP helps them navigate these situations so they stay on track and graduate.
Mike and Linda saw firsthand how the 11-year commitment could transform the young lives of the students they sponsored. One of their sponsored students, Montserrat, entered Nativity Prep in sixth grade. The support she received enabled her to gain admission to the Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP), an all-girls school. Academically eligible Nativity students receive a scholarship to offset the costs of attending Catholic high schools. Montserrat excelled at OLP and, with the support of the Graduate Support Team at Nativity, applied to several colleges and universities. With her strong academic record, she was fortunate to have several choices. Ultimately, Montserrat chose the same school as her sponsor, Seattle University. Deacon Mike could not have been more proud. They remained in touch throughout her college years.
From the first days of Nativity Prep, in a small, rental house in Barrio Logan, when times were lean, it was the belief in the mission and the dedication of the many
supporters like Mike and Linda that kept the doors open. And while Nativity has come far with a new campus and a strong community of supporters, that dedication to the mission and commitment from the community is just as vital today.