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West // West Oahu Coverstory
Nicole Kato

Waipahu Student Is Youth Of The Year

Juanito Moises

An outstanding Waipahu High School student, Juanito Moises, recently was named 2013 GEAR UP Youth of the Year by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, which recognizes leaders in the college readiness program throughout the country.

In addition to the prestigious distinction, Moises also received a $2,000 scholarship from the NCCEP board of directors.

“For GEAR UP (which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), we help students get ready for college,” explained Moises, a senior at Waipahu, where he is the president of the GEAR UP club. “Right now we’re really getting students to work on college preparation, so we’re going to have college workshops and we’re having them writing personal essays for college admissions and scholarships.”

Being a member of GEAR UP isn’t the only thing on Moises’ plate. He also is president of Waipahu’s Skills USA, president of Science Olympiad and a National Honor Society member. He also participates in cross country and springtime track and field – all while maintaining a 3.98 grade-point average.

According to assistant principal Carl Matsumoto, Moises also is the Design Thinking program coach for the high school and is enrolled in the early college program. (Moises currently is registered for English 100 at UH West Oahu.)

Moises describes his achievement as a true blessing that has inspired him to keep working hard.

“It was an awesome experience, and it really helped me to be more motivated and to work more,” he said. “I just want to give back to the school and other students, by helping them understand the importance of education and not giving up.”

Moises is the youngest of seven children, and he and his family moved to the Islands from the Philippines when he was only 9 years old.

“I was shy when I got here,” Moises admitted. “I didn’t really know how to speak English.”

But despite the language barrier, this young man immersed himself in a myriad of educational opportunities. Moises has four brothers and two sisters, some of whom have gone on to community colleges, but Moises will be the first to attend a four-year college.

Matsumoto adds that Moises is involved in an amazing extracurricular project for the school: creating a guard shack for the security guards who patrol the Waipahu High School campus.

“It will help protect them from the elements,” Moises explained. “They get sick and they get sunburned, and cold from the rain. We want to help out other people in our school. We want to thank them, because they’re the No. 1 defense (for the school).”

Whether he is helping his peers prepare for college or creating a safe space for security guards, Moises always is looking to better himself and his community.

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