Our Islands, Our Future

The New Year brings with it a sense of optimism as we look forward and prepare for exciting challenges ahead. Having been exposed to the Focus Maui Nui vision, Youth Alliance members shared a positive outlook on the county’s future and their role in it. “I want to be a part of the future of Maui,” 17-year-old Marie Sijalbo said. A senior at Maui High School, Sijalbo has been actively involved in the robotics program – a project supported by the Maui Economic Development Board’s Ke Alahele Education Fund. Sijalbo dreams of a career in engineering and a return after college to the islands where she hopes to serve as a productive citizen. “If students leave the island to go to college, I think they should come back and give back to the community who made them who they are today.”

Lavinia Sagario, 16, joined the Health Occupations Students of America group at Maui High, to prepare herself for a future in the medical field. “I want to be a physician,” she said. More specifically, Lavinia is contemplating the field of radiology. “Hopefully Maui will have need for more doctors and I can come back to my roots,” Lavinia said. The two members of the Youth Alliance said they’re hopeful that the island’s economy will improve and jobs will become plentiful again. “I think it’s scary right now that although you get an education sometimes it doesn’t mean you get a job after (college),” Marie said. “It makes me wonder what am I going to do.” Marie and Lavinia said their strategy now is to get involved at school and in the community. “I’m trying to get well rounded and be involved in community service to help my chances for the future,” Marie said.

Youth Alliance Project Coordinator Willow Krause organizes monthly community service projects in part to give participants a greater understanding of the community they live in and how they can give back. “I think teenagers are often given a bad rap,” Krause said. “Every student I’ve met has been wonderful and I think their future is bright.”