Antioch High Student Honored For Leadership and Civic Engagement

Antioch High junior Morelia Gil-Cubillo was honored last month by the Contra Costa Youth Hall of Fame. (Photo by Cesar Gil)

By Joe Porrello

Antioch High junior Morelia Gil-Cubillo and other local students were recognized March 26 by the Contra Costa Youth Hall of Fame as part of the 30th annual Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Celebration.

Gil-Cubillo received the leadership and civic engagement prize for her volunteer work, community leadership, and noteworthy extracurricular activities. Five other high school students and two middle school students earned awards in other categories.

“I feel really honored,” she said. “I never started community work thinking I’d gain something from it… other than feeling good and helping people.”

In her first year of high school, Gil-Cubillo and a friend joined the Key Club — an international organization aiming to enable student leadership through community service. What started as a way to help a friend who didn’t want to join the club alone ended up lighting a proverbial fire under Gil-Cubillo that turned into years of work.

“I went to a few coastal cleanups and community cleanups, and that’s where I really fell in love with the idea of helping people,” Gil-Cubillo said.

Her initial community service is something she said gave her the necessary networking opportunities to take her newfound passion further.

That community service has included grocery drives at local churches.

Helping the predominantly Latinx attendees of the drives was particularly satisfying for Gil-Cubillo, who moved back and forth between the Bay Area and Mexico as a child and is bilingual.

“I was able to relate to them and be able to help them out as much as I could … that was what most encouraged me — being able to help my community,” she said.

That connection likely also helped make her a well-received documentary trailer about immigration for an assignment in her English class.

She is now vice president of the Antioch High Key Club and part of other school groups like BATS Scholars, which makes college more accessible, and Girl Power, which empowers female students.


Additionally prioritizing environmental work, Gil-Cubillo is part of the Earth Team at Antioch High and served as the city’s Resource Recovery Ambassador. As such, she taught others to reduce and properly dispose of their garbage.

She says many people were not aware of the repercussions that come along with not recycling, wasting unnecessarily, and creating unneeded garbage — or the difference between something biodegradable and not.

“Even at school, students leave their trash all around, not thinking of the janitors or the planet,” Gil-Cubillo said.

As Climate Change Worsens, ‘We Have No Future’

Not stopping there, she also aided in the formation of a Human Rights and Equity Committee in Antioch, and participated in nominating a Police Oversight Commission in a place where eight different law enforcement officers were found to have exhibited racial bias in their work amid the ongoing text message scandal.

>>>Read: ‘Fire Everyone Who Is Racist’: Black Antioch Residents, Mayor React to Police Texting Scandal

“That’s going to be affecting the youth and the future of Antioch,” she said in reference to the oversight commission.

Some of the hands-on work Gil-Cubillo does comes through her role as part of the Antioch Council of Teens, including helping with the creation of family paint nights, holiday celebrations, and block parties.

“And they were all free… that’s the best part to me,” she said.

Gil-Cubillo added that the events for Antioch youth to attend are important because they often lack the privilege to go to parties or leave the city for leisure, in part because of “terrible public transportation.”

Also helping fellow students as a member of the Board of Directors for an SAT preparation seminar made for under-resourced students, Gil-Cubillol says young students having agency through education is crucial. She noted the different life experiences of today’s children and adults, and how new perspectives are needed.

“The youth are the future,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who have very large authority who are more on the other side than this side, and they’re still making decisions that will affect future generations to come, and some of those decisions aren’t the best — so, having youth voices affects the community directly and positively.”

Doing more community service for those who don’t speak English as a first language is one of Gil-Cubillo’s goals. Specifically, she wants more community centers for immigrant communities where they can “come to and feel comfortable bringing some documents and asking for them to be translated without feeling scared that someone’s going to out them,” Gil-Cubillo said. “This comes from my personal experience with my family, because I’ve always had to do that for my parents.”

Again drawing inspiration for her work through her familial experience, Gil-Cubillo’s grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease has motivated her to pursue a career in pathology, so she can conduct research in the hopes of finding a cure.

1 Comment
  • Jayden Lawrence
    Posted at 08:43h, 26 April

    Morelia is the most compassionate person I have ever met!

Post A Comment

Enjoy our content?