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Sacred Hearts alumni return to offer advice to students

By Staff | Jan 28, 2010

Sacred Hearts School eighth-graders learned that choices made in middle and high school can impact your career path.

LAHAINA — “Believe in yourself, believe in your parents, believe in your teachers.” A group of professionals recently offered this sound advice to Mary Anna Waldrop’s eighth grade class at Sacred Hearts School.

Waldrop noted, “Think back to when you were in the eighth grade. Did anyone from the business world visit your classroom, acting as if he or she had all the time in the world, just for you, to offer advice and talk straight to your heart?”

This learning experience was coordinated by Powerhouse Room Mom Team’s Mayling Barbosa, director of guest experience at The Westin Maui, and Siu Whitehead, a realtor at Aloha Realty Group.

Before Christmas, Barbosa approached Waldrop with the idea of having guest speakers share their knowledge of how choices at the middle school and high school ages affect one’s career path.

“An unexpected reward of the two hours spent in Room 8 was the reactions of the speakers. They felt they made an impact and were encouraged by the responses of the students. It was even more meaningful because four of the speakers were graduates of Sacred Hearts School, and one is a parent of a recent graduate and a current sixth-grader,” Waldrop explained.

Tiare Gorospe, Elissa Kahahane and Jennifer Pederson, all graduates of the Sacred Hears School Class of ’99, were enthusiastic about sharing their middle school experiences.

Professionally dressed, poised and articulate, Gorospe explained, “Education is everything. The reason you need to continue your education is so that you can be able to do what you want in the future.”

She reminded them to take what their Sacred Hearts teachers have taught them — the good habits — on to high school and beyond.

“What I learned here at Sacred Hearts set me up for what I am doing today: working on my masters at Washington State to become a pharmacist. I’m doing this so I can come back home, to set up my future,” she said.

Kahahane remembered how intimidated she felt when it was time to sign up for classes at Lahainaluna High School as a freshman.

And then she hit them with her confident personality. “I realized, this is MY life story,” she said. “I’m going to write it!”

Not knowing what Student Council involved, much less the role of vice president, she ran for the office and was elected.

Kahahane wanted to break out of her bubble and try new things.

“Get involved with as many activities that are offered in high school. Challenge yourself. Believe in yourself. Do the things you normally wouldn’t do. Surprise yourself,” said Kahahane, who is pursuing graduate school at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Pederson commanded the group’s attention with her casual and comfortable attitude. The fact how ten years later, the Sacred Hearts School Class of ’99 still keeps in touch, proves how important ‘ohana is to her.

“There is always someone going through the same thing as you. Believe in yourself. Believe that people are striving for your success to help you define your goals,” she said.

Pederson emphasized that in high school, much less eighth grade, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew what I didn’t want to do. That was a decision in itself.”

She offered one last tip, which is fitting for this future lawyer: “Tap into your inner self and see what you really want to do. If you don’t follow through with your decisions, that will have a domino effect. It is your life.”

Relating to the eighth-graders is easy for Sacred Hearts Class of 2003 graduate Bret Omura, as he was one of their chaperones when they went to Washington, D.C., and New York last year and has filled in as a substitute teacher.

He shared his understanding of how students sometimes become overwhelmed, how easy it is to get distracted and how difficult they think school is.

Completing his Liberal Arts Degree at Maui Community College has allowed him to experience the importance of being in the workforce.

“You don’t want your laziness to set a pattern and be the repetitive state that takes over your life. Listen to what your teachers are telling you,” he said.

Glenn Casil, director of rooms at The Westin Maui, shared his gratitude for the spiritual foundation taught in his children’s formative years.

Since the students had been attentively sitting for 45 minutes, his leadership ability was obvious when he had the students stand and create a wave from one side of the class to another. “No, a BIG wave,” he said.

Casil explained that the wave represents their lives. “If you don’t prepare for the wave, it will crash on you. If you don’t catch the wave, someone else will or it will pass you by. If you prepare and catch the wave, the ride is long and will carry you where you want to go,” he commented. This metaphor hit home in this class full of body boarders and surfers.

Casil stated that students must learn three languages to compete in life. “The first is the written language from completing resumes to composing reports. The second is the speaking language. Public speaking is so important to be able to do well. And the third language is body language. This is how you present yourself; how you dress, how you speak, what you say without speaking,” he said.

Casil ended by reminding them to balance their lives and to love.

It was easy for Alissa Baptist, The Westin Maui’s human resources manager, to give the eighth-graders advice, because she was grateful for her sister’s advice when she left for college.

“My sister told me, ‘You need to focus on school and study hard, because that sets the tone for your GPA.’ “

With rapid fire eloquence, Baptist shared what students need to do to prepare for interviews.   

“Experience and education are a must. Most companies want you to apply online. Your resume is your first impression, then you present yourself as business casual or business professional. Smile and believe in yourself. If you really want it, you’ll achieve it.”

Before breakfast was served by the Power House Room Mom Team, each student stood and gave their guests an appreciation statement, thanking the speakers specifically for their time, advice, knowledge and for believing in them.

“My appreciation statement is to The Westin for allowing its employees to share their mana‘o with our future. As the nutritious food was enjoyed, Tiare, Elissa and Jennifer laughed while reminiscing when they were sitting in the desks at ‘good ole Sacred Hearts.’ It was obvious that each of these guest speakers are examples of what it means to believe in yourself,” Waldrop concluded.