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Saturday in Menlo Park: Counselor for human-trafficking victims gives graduation talk

Erica Wilson, a counselor for human-trafficking victims, will give the commencement speech at Menlo Park's private Mid-Peninsula High School on Saturday.

Ms. Wilson, 23, a 2009 graduate of the school and a native of East Palo Alto, has been working as a counselor at a residential facility for human trafficking victims, most from Oakland and San Francisco.

The graduation ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at the school, located at 1340 Willow Road.

California is one of the top four destinations in the United States for trafficked human beings, according to statistics from the California Department of Justice.

In her keynote speech, Ms. Wilson plans to talk about following one's own path and remembering "self care," she says. "After they graduate it's all about self discovery, finding their place in the world and being comfortable with who they are."

In her work, Ms. Wilson assists clients with writing resumes and adjusting to their new lives. "I'm about giving them hope ... (and) telling them their life isn't over and getting them to realize what their reality is at the moment," she says in a statement from the school. "(It's) a heart-happy type of job."

Conflict resolution and peer support during tough times at home were among Ms. Wilson's particular interests when she was at Min-Peninsula, she says.

"The biggest thing I've learned is that you never know someone's story so your interaction should be positive," she says. "Everybody's going through something. If you can improve someone's day by smiling, you should because you don't know what they have to go through."

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