Michael McDaniels attends the California Academy of Mathematics and Science where he excels not only in his high school classes but also in college classes taken on the CSU Dominguez Hills campus. He teaches himself and urges others to teach him what he does not learn in school, making independent study an important part of his life, whether the topic is the status of minorities in the US or the latest innovations in technology.
As a part of independent study, Michael designs and constructs low-cost projects of things he researches, for example a LEGO scanner and holographic data storage device. Not all of projects turn out as planned, but each project provides him with knowledge that could not have been gained any other way. For his latest project, a Volumetric (3D) Display System, he is using money granted by the Southern California Junior Academy of Sciences.
Michael has lived in the Los Angeles area all his life, moving with his mother from South Los Angeles to Hawthorne. He has grown to love the city and its many opportunities. At the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations he is receiving training in writing from a Media Relations Director to write and publish articles in a variety of religious and ethnic outlets. Through the Youth ACT program at the Commission, he is involved in the creation and implementation of projects that effect youth in the area. One such project, Confessions of the Discriminated, consisted of the creation of a CD and CD release party featuring songs created by members of Youth ACT as well as guest artists. He hopes to one day create a large-scale youth network connecting the resources of Youth ACT with others, such as the Volunteer Center Youth Coalition, and put them at the disposal of young activists in LA.
This past summer of 2003, Michael attended the Quest Scholars Program at Stanford University. The 5-week experience was life changing, providing an opportunity to interact with highly motivated students and program staff across the US. He also became a member of the LINKS Achiever Program for African American seniors, which provides motivational workshops.
Despite the hopes, promises and mysteries of the future, Michael seeks to enjoy the beauty of the present through reflection.