You can find her walking and talking with a posse of friends at lunch, or holding an impromptu dance session in the P.E. building. Maybe you’ll pass her laughing with and hugging her friends in the library, or maybe you’ll just see her dancing on her own in the breezeway.
Among her friends, sophomore Mia Gilford is known as an “individual.” Everything she does, from covering for her friends, to being a confidant, or just bouncing off the walls, she does with passion and heart, taking guidance from few.
“In a weird way I make it a habit not to look up to certain celebrities,” Gilford said. “So many people do that, and they base their lives off of the success of the celebrities.”
However, there are still people who have influenced Gilford, such as her friends, her mother, and perhaps most of all, her late father, Chance.
“I look up to my dad,” Gilford said. “I still look up to him, even though he’s passed. He was a very inspiring person to say the least. He was the definition of a strong person. I know so many people that barely even know him that still look up to him.”
Chance Gilford passed away last year in July, at 38 years of age. Gilford said that he was a strong father and an constant inspiration.
“I don’t know how to describe him. He was an independent person,” Gilford said. “He was diagnosed with stage four cancer when I was in 8th grade. I remember his entire desk used to be covered in papers, and then it was covered in pills.”
Gilford said he was her rock, even as his health began to fail after the diagnosis.
“Even then, when he was just sick as a dog, he wouldn’t let that stop him,” Gilford said. “He would still go to the gym whenever he could, he would still get up in the morning, take a shower, and just talk to me for hours on end.”
Gilford is also a person who is always there to talk with whoever happens to be there, such as her best friend, sophomore Chloe McLaughlin.
“We’re just weird people together,” McLaughlin said. “We make a lot of weird noises and dance really weirdly.”
In addition to being an avid dancer, Gilford is also a member of the track team, where she met most of her other friends.
“I met Mia last year when I was a sophomore and she was a freshman, second semester during track,” junior Toni Ali-Daggo said. “It was an interesting experience with Mia doing track.”
Mia said she joined the track team freshman year because she loved running, and because her dad wanted her to. She continued running this year to honor her father’s wishes and also because she enjoyed it so much.
“She is very energetic and lively,” Ali-Daggo said. “She made track interesting, and she motivated me to actually do something.”
Gilford and Ali-Daggo both defined their relationship as one where they push each other’s boundaries, so that they can both grow.
“Yeah, I hit her and she doesn’t like it, but it helps her with her control and her patience,” said Gilford, jokingly.
“It’s not like we totally abuse each other, or push each other over our boundaries,” Ali-Daggo said. “We talk to each other, we have our moments. We come to each other whenever we’re pissed off, or we need to rant about something.”
Gilford is known among her friends as someone who voices her opinions of others in clear ways.
“She wrote me a letter,” Ali-Daggo said. “I felt really special. She said that I am a very influential person in her life… It felt really good because no one’s ever written me something like that.”
Gilford said she also enjoys helping her friends, and being there for them when they need it.
“She dresses me, because I can’t dress myself,” McLaughlin said. “I love her style. Her style is what I wish I could pull off.”