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MALIA: Campus rallies after diagnosis

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(BRIAN NUEVO/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(BRIAN NUEVO/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(BRIAN NUEVO/EYE OF THE TIGER)

TARAH JOHNSON

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As countless locks of hair cascaded to the ground with each buzz of the razor, select Roseville High School administrators shaved their heads while thinking about their close co-worker and friend Stephanie Malia. An RHS assistant principal, Malia was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As she seeks treatment miles away from her RHS office, she still feels the overwhelming support from her co-workers and staff.

“When I first came to RHS three years ago, I knew it was a special place, but now I think I understand just how special. I am humbled and overwhelmed with the support,” Malia said. “I honestly believe my positive response to treatment is due in large part to the support I’ve received here.”

As Malia is intermittently out for the remainder of the school year, the confines of RHS still display unwavering encouragement for Malia in her journey ahead. Several RHS administrators shed their precious locks in an action of solidarity for Malia and her current journey.

RHS counselor Jason Bradley feels that Malia’s diagnosis has rocked the staff, but they remain hopeful for Malia’s swift recovery.

“I think it’s shaken us all up a little bit and we’re obviously all very close and worried but we’re all very hopeful and we want to give her as much encouragement as we can,” Bradley said. “We’re here to do everything we can. Shaving our heads is a show  of appreciation for Stephanie.”

Malia’s stand in, Jason Harm, went under the razor for his new co-worker, showing support. Despite Harm working at RHS for a mere few weeks, he feels that cancer has a devastating impact on everyone and was happy to contribute to the cause.

“We’re all in this together. It doesn’t matter what school you work for. I think cancer really crosses barriers. It crosses school lines. It doesn’t matter,” Harm said. “This is the least that I could do to show Mrs. Malia that we support her.”

(TARAH JOHNSON/EYE OF THE TIGER)

Support for Malia wasn’t just confined to the office but schoolwide, with a request to students and staff members to adorn the color blue last Friday in support of the assistant principal. With an honorary ‘Malia Day’ organized by Student Government, students and staff streamed into the RHS amphitheater sporting various shades of blue with paper hearts in hands to take photos and videos.

Malia feels emotional over the support from all figures within the district.

“To be honest, I cried. This school and district have been so incredibly kind and supportive,” Malia said. “I cannot even begin to express my gratitude. It is a humbling experience when so many people selflessly reach out to help you.”

In the three years Malia has worked as an assistant principal at RHS, she has already established a sense of familiarity and amongst her co-workers and peers. To assistant principal Jason Wilson, Malia has made a special place in his heart, and shaving his head was a small deed to show his appreciation.

“We love her huge heart. She’s very caring and loving. Where I work, this is a family so when someone is going through a situation like this it really hits home,” Wilson said. “We just want to show our love and support for her, and that she’s not alone.”

While cancer encompasses a distinct devastation and both physical and emotional turmoil, Malia feels the disease has strengthened her in a way. Despite being forced to abruptly carry a ponderous burden, she believes it’s also a learning lesson.

“I’ve been the recipient of more kindness and generosity than I could have possibly imagined,” Malia said. “It reaffirms my faith in the goodness of the human spirit. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was, and when I feel like I’m not, there are always people willing to lend me their strength.”

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