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Paloma Banto earns scholarships to attend Concordia University

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Feb 5, 2021

Surrounded by her family, Paloma Banto commits to attend Concordia University in California on academic and swimming scholarships. PHOTO BY RAY CHIN.

NAPILI — She is a bright light of optimism and integrity that will surely contribute to a positive future for the West Side community and the world at large.

Eighteen-year-old Paloma Banto is a Maui Preparatory Academy senior who was recently awarded scholarships to attend Concordia University in California.

The awards are for full academic tuition based on her 4.3 grade point average and further financial aid from the swim team.

Young Banto carries her advanced placement study curriculum through her senior year at Maui Prep and envisions a career in counseling and social behavior. She will major in psychology at Concordia while competing for the swim team there.

She began her aqua-athlete career as an eight-year-old with Lahaina Swim Club under the tutelage of Coach Tom Popdan. Like so many other West Side youths, Banto thrived under the goal-oriented mentorship of Coach Tom.

“Paloma has been blessed with God-given talent that through hard work, she has honed into excellent skill levels in all four strokes. She is the ultimate role model for the younger swimmers on the Lahaina Swim Club. She is respectful, academically outstanding, a tireless trainer and uses a positive approach to all aspects of swimming competition,” stated Popdan.

Banto carried those attributes on to a sterling competitive career under Coach Mike “Tex” Ritter on the Pueo swim team.

She excelled in the breaststroke and the individual medley, but perhaps her outstanding contribution to the program came in her leadership skills.

For Coach Tex, it is the Aloha Spirit in the heart of Paloma Banto that exemplifies the positive influence she brings to the team.

“Since first meeting her, Paloma has always demonstrated the ultimate Aloha Spirit. She is our team captain this season in a year in which many things have been different. She has been a constant driving and positive force. I have observed her leadership through motivational words to her teammates and personal sacrifices for the success of her team and herself. Paloma has demonstrated a great commitment to her training, and it has helped develop her into a fine young woman,” he said.

“Paloma’s Aloha Spirit carries far beyond the swim venue, as she has joined her family each summer to help communities in need with a constant attitude of being humble, grateful, respectful and generous to all. She has set high educational goals for herself, maintaining great grades in the classroom. It has been an honor watching Paloma develop into the fine young woman she is today, and I know we can expect even more great things from her and more aloha in the future.”

For Paloma herself, humility and gratitude dominate a youthful personality.

“I am just so thankful to my family, to my coaches, my teachers, my friends and the Kumulani Chapel Youth Group for helping me all of my life. Most especially my mom and dad, Kellie and Luis, and my brothers Niko and Matias, have always been there to support me in everything I do,” she concluded.