Coach Mike's Life Journey
Mike starts his story with his family immigrating to the United States at a tender young age. While his dad was struggling working long hard hours in a barbershop to put food on the table and raising his children in their new home country, Mike was also facing his own struggles and hardship due to the language barrier, cultural differences, and prejudice as an immigrant. And adapting to a new school as a small child is no easy feat especially in this delicate situation. Add on top of that the feelings of suffering and frustration and school suspensions because of the constant misunderstanding by both the students and teachers. That’s what Mike was dealing with at a very young age. No one understood his situation, and no one gave him a chance or a helping hand that he really needed. And despite these forsaken years, Mike was still starving to learn.
Then an unforeseeable change arose that completely shifted Mike’s life. Due to cultural differences in child discipline, he entered the foster care system and was placed in a family home with Chinese foster parents. This initial experience was surprisingly a positive one for the foster parents taught him the meaning of hard work and gave him several jobs to do around the house. Mike quickly understood the value of money at a young age. However this initial positive light on the situation quickly faded away as soon as he started his new school where the student body happened to be all African American. He was bullied everyday, and surviving school became a daily task for Mike. From being beaten in the boy’s bathroom for being asian and to having his lunch money taken away on a regular basis, it was something no child should go through. Mike still has a scar on the side of his hip that reminds him of the time another student stabbed him with a pencil in class.
Mike knew he had to adjust quickly to survive in this new environment. The only way he thought he could survive school was to learn about the African American social culture and be relatable with their culture. So as a simple example, he went to a local thrift store and purchased a pair of MC Hammer pants and wore it to school. Many students laughed at him and also realized how transparent Mike was. He took a proactive approach to learn about the African American culture from that day on. After a year, his black friends fully accepted him and gave him the nickname “Black Egg Roll”. The following school year he joined several African American organizations to promote diversity, equality, and peace. Once the social aspect of school settled down, he started selling candy during recess and lunch time to make a few dollars to buy lunch and school essentials for his education.
Life settled down for a short while, but Mike would come to notice that change would be something he could not run away from. Due to issues with other foster children, he was sent to a new home in East LA with Vietnamese foster parents while his sister went to a different home. This was the first time he and his sister were ever separated. Mike felt lonelier than ever. Without any family support now and Los Angeles erupting in riots because of the infamous Rodney King police officers’ trial verdict, he needed to gather his survival skills to navigate this new environment alone.
During this precarious time, once again, Mike started a new school which was predominantly Latin American. And yet again, being bullied was a daily event. Starting from riding the public bus in the morning to walking three miles to get to his school was no easy task. Oftentimes Mike would take alternative routes to avoid being mugged and having his belongings stolen. He had to endure constant harassment and racial discrimination on a regular bases. For his own safety, Mike had to carry a wooden homemade baton with him to defend himself. But having already gone through the process of adapting to a new environment, he blended quickly into this community by using the same strategy; he would assimilate their culture and make friends through that. He dressed up in chollo attire and even started to speak Spanish somewhat fluently within the Spanish speaking community. He was able to break the racial barrier once again and was accepted by his Hispanic friends. He was given the nickname “Chino Miguel” from that point on. Because of his past upbringing with his father, Mike was able to provide mental support to his new Hispanic friends who were struggling with their relationships at home and with their academics.
Although he was making good friends and getting along in the community, he could not get along with some of the difficult foster kids in the house and got into many fights such that Mike was sent to a group home. He was moved multiple times after that carrying whatever belongings he had in a black garbage bag. The loneliness and coldness of these moves left Mike broken. He was just a child but already had to go through so much. It seemed like the world was against him. Without anyone by his side, he started thinking of ending his own life in despair. He rode his skateboard to a nearby alley with a weapon in his hand to end his life. But he found an answer through his undying faith.
He promised God that he would not stop trying, would not give up, and would continue to fight to live to help others. This made him strong and motivated to study more. He went to the public library and borrowed several books to retrain his mind and to learn about human dynamics and the way people think. Even when he wasn’t allowed to have any room lights on past a certain time, Mike used a flashlight underneath his blanket to avoid waking up the other foster kids in the room.
When Mike was 15 years old, an angel appeared. His bible study teacher heard of his struggles and decided to become a foster parent to help him. This woman’s choice was a turning point for Mike’s education and ultimately his life. She provided love, nourishment, and a sense of security. Instead of fighting for his life everyday, he was able to rest his mind and soul and just try to be an average kid. Taking him under her wing was the helping hand he had been seeking all these years. Seeing the desire in Mike’s eyes to elevate his knowledge, she pulled him out of the public school system and sent him to a private school, Bishop Amat. In addition, she hired private tutors to get him back on track and to give him a shot towards success.
When Mike’s sister turned 18 and was emancipated from government’s support, he made the hard decision to leave his foster parent to reunite with her and move to Seaside, Oregon to help out a friend run a motel business. This would be Mike’s 4th high school in a matter of three years. They thought this would be a great opportunity to start their lives afresh together. Both Mike and his sister started their day at 5:00 AM working at the motel, going to school, and then returning back to the motel to continue their work responsibilities. Mike also tenaciously pursued a second job working at McDonald’s at the age of 15 while maintaining his academics. It was here where he faced true racism for the first time at a public business. During a nightshift, he encountered a white supremacist who really gave him a hard time and preferred a white employee to take his order. His white friends who were dining there that evening came to Mike’s aid and supported him during this altercation. It was after this incident that his co-workers opened up and accepted him, befriending him for standing up for himself. He was also able to make a name for himself at school because of the incident.
Realizing that Seaside Oregon wasn’t the best fit for both Mike and his sister, they both decided to drive back down Southern California to restart their lives. Mike went to West Covina highschool for his Senior year. During that time he was able to maintain his academics and got involved on the Varsity Tennis team. After each game he would walk four miles to a local Chinese restaurant where he worked as a busboy to earn income to pay for his living expenses.
Now as an adult, Mike reflects on his adolescent years and recognizes a fighter. He sees someone who, at one point, wanted to give up but was able to be reborn through faith and education. He had struggled since the beginning of his life, but in the end he was able to do well in high school maintaining a high GPA to go to college and pursue his passion in Psychology.
While attending college, Mike took on several part time jobs to help support his living expenses. He then decided to reach out to AT&T Wireless for a sales position but was denied due to a lack of experience. He worked for six months to gain that experience elsewhere and applied again. This time he was offered the position and became the top sales representative for 12 consecutive months. During his employment, Mike took full advantage of the tuition reimbursement program they offered. So every semester, with his savvy essay writing skills, Mike convinced them how the courses would greatly benefit his sales and thus the company’s profit margins. Mike earned his bachelors degree in Behavioral Psychology and went back to school to obtain his teaching credential and a masters degree in Education. He has been an elementary to high school teacher since 2004 and continues to be. He has even won several awards including “Teacher of the Year”.
In 2005 he founded the Strategic Writers Club Academy, a writing academy to provide his expertise to students who struggled in writing. He was able to provide free service to local foster children to help them as he knew the struggles foster children faced. SWC Academy’s online classes can now be found throughout the 50 states of the United States and South Korea and serves over 400 students. As the founder and principal of his writing academy, he has built a strong team of educators who believes in his mission and works alongside him to help students and adults overcome their struggles with writing. In 2019, SWC Academy was voted in by parents and community members and was awarded “The Best After School Program” in the City of Rowland Heights.
In 2020 during this COVID-19 pandemic, Mike decided to combine his expertise in human behavior with his positive energy to produce motivational TikTok videos on the walks of life. With his ability to connect with people of different ages and backgrounds and understanding the need for positive motivation, his videos went exponentially viral and he swiftly gained 20,000 followers within his first two weeks of creating on the platform. He is not providing his expertise to over 400k followers.
He encourages people to continue their fight like he did. He never forgets about his hard past, the days he spent alone and helpless, and keeps helping foster kids who, like himself, are in need of education as a means of salvation. Nowadays he is a beloved member of the community who has a remarkable ability to connect with people from various ethnicities and age groups like no other. He is seen as a respected educator and leader who touches the lives of not only students but from people of all walks of life.
Through education, grit, vision, and faith, Mike has helped thousands of people mold a new perspective for their lives. Mike grew up as a child with all odds against him, but he proved that success is about never giving up and the motto “One day at a time” became a regular quote for him. He is more than happy to know he was able to overcome his problems, but now, his life motivation is to influence others and to help them find their true purpose in life. He remembers how hard it was for him to grow stronger and successful. Now he wants others to have the help he wished someone had given to him earlier. He will guide clients to discover their true life potential and to break perceived limitations and constraints to live a full optimal life.
Mike kept his promise to God, and is now beginning to fulfill his dream guiding others to live a better life, being someone he would look up to as a child.
If you would like more information about SWC Academy and the specialized curriculum they offer, please go to www.swc-academy.com.