Soriano is Maui Boys and Girls Clubs Youth of the Year

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Photo by Ka Leo o Nā Koa staff

Kamehameha Maui junior Aaren Soriano with his mentor, Ms. Lisa Rodrigues, director of the Makawao Boys and Girls Club. Soriano was selected as the Youth of the Year 2013 and will be representing the Maui clubs at the state level in March.

By Lexis Viena, staff writer

On Friday, January 25, junior Aaren Soriano was crowned with the Eugene Freedman award for Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui. The Youth of the Year award is an annual title given to an outstanding member from among the six Boys and Girls Clubs on the island.

“Anything is possible…being a great role model is what I am devoted to being,” Soriano said.

The Youth of the Year program recognizes members for their service to the club and its community. Sponsored by Tupperware Brands, the award comes with a $2,500 scholarship.

“At first, I didn’t want to be a part of the Boys and Girls Club, but after a few weeks, I started to enjoy going in…they [the staff and members] brought me out of my shell and helped to make me into the leader I am today,” Soriano said.

He will advance and represent Maui on the state level and perhaps even move on to regional and national competition. He was selected out of four Maui club Youth of the Year finalists. See an inspiring video about all four finalists at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui Web site by clicking here. 

“I am planning to just continue being myself and represent Maui well [in the state competition],” Soriano said.

The four youths were required to make a speech to a panel of five judges, which included Maui notables such as Office of Hawaiian Affairs representative Hulu Lindsey and Rick Freedman, the son of the award’s namesake.

“I felt that if I was able to make a difference, I might as well do it through a speech. If you share your experiences, you may help other people overcome similar issues involving domestic violence or whatever it is that they are going through in their lives,” Soriano said.

Student speeches were to demonstrate excellence in leadership, character, and outstanding service to the community and club. Soriano’s speech was based around his experiences as a child and his life as a teenager in his community.

“I did face many brick walls, but fortunately, one of these walls had a door,” he said in his speech. “…When you walk through the club doors, you can feel that everyone has love and respect for one another.”

In addition to the service and the speech before the panelists, Soriano and the club’s staff also wrote essays — all of which were submitted to the judging panel for the final selection, according to the Makawao branch’s director, Ms. Lisa Rodrigues.

Soriano is an active member of the branch and pours his time into the betterment of the community by completing service projects and logging in over 160 hours as a tutor during Power-Hour, an after-school study hall for club members, among his 250 total club hours.

He says that with his new confidence, scholarship, and the help of the Boys and Girls Club, his future plans include attending either Yale or Stanford University to study law.