Our Islands, Our Future

05-16-12 Quintin GalizaQuintin Galiza has endured homelessness, the death of both parents and undue influence from troublesome friends to get to where he is today. He graduates with a high school equivalency diploma at this year’s Maui Community School for Adults commencement exercises. The 20-year-old from Kihei was homeless with his dad, going between stints in the family truck and friends’ homes last March when Galiza’s dad suffered a stroke and died. He lost his mother two years earlier following complications from abdominal surgery. “It’s been hard,” Galiza said. “I’ve had to figure things out on my own and I didn’t have a parent figure I could depend on.”

Galiza sought government assistance to support him and his younger sister, Alyssa, a 17-year-old at the time. Alyssa has since been placed in foster care but Galiza maintains contact with her. She’s been his motivation to fend off an unhealthy lifestyle with troublesome friends. “I’m trying to be a good role model for my sister,” he said. In one year’s time, Galiza has taken classes that helped him pass tests required for a General Education Development diploma or GED. He’s also completed a semester of studies at the University of Hawaii Maui College and landed a job as a part-time cashier’s associate for a local pharmacy. Alyssa is following her brother’s footsteps with plans to enroll at the Maui Community School for Adults this summer so she can get the help she needs to earn her own GED. Galiza said he intends on pursuing a college degree.

Galiza’s scheduled to speak at the Maui Community School for Adults 45th commencement exercises set for 6 p.m., May 23, at the Baldwin High School Auditorium. More than 220 students have completed requirements for a GED and the Competency Based High School Diploma Program. Galiza said he expects to be filled with emotion on graduation day. “When I think back, there were days I would break down and cry. I just wanted to stay home… I never gave up. No matter what adversity, I never gave up.”