Many Filipino families migrate to the United States to attain a better life, safe economy, and especially a better education for the children. Several students are slowly building their dreams at Henry Perrine Baldwin High School (BHS). Two of these ambitious students are Aleen Patricio and Joanah Leano—both at the prime age of ninteen and two of the many graduating top notch students.
Aleen Patricio, prospective U.S. Marine, was born in Negros Visayas, Canlaon City, Philippines. Aleen was raised in the Philippines where he spent most of his childhood on a rice farm, playing in the rain and swimming in the river. He was the last one in his family to be brought to Maui after his two sisters and parents settled in first.
His family is convinced that a good education, dedication, and passion can promise great achievements; a belief to which Aleen has adapted. For example, he walked to school in rainy or humid conditions and ignored all the hindrances that prevented him from achieving his goals. Despite being bullied because of his accent and ethnicity, he still accomplished many personal objectives. Aleen’s friends helped him to become more confident and to adjust to the unfamiliar environment.
Joining Junior ROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) was one of the big factors that helped him to conclude what he wants to be in life. The program taught him to become a natural leader, to have personal courage, to be a reliable person and made him more passionate. “JROTC is not just about joining the military. It also exists to help students become successful,” he stated recently after being promoted to the rank of staff sergeant and platoon leader. Aleen expressed that being enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps lately was his greatest achievement, as it has been his desire to join the Marines and serve this country.
In addition to maintaining his grade point average, he is also engaged frequently in extracurricular activities. For example, he was elected as the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Club’s president, and also was elected to be the Kabatak Club’s Public Relations representative. Many of his peers perceive him to be kind, reliable, funny, considerate and outspoken. One of his friends predicted Aleen to become a family man in the future, considering that he grew up in such a loving environment. Once inside the classroom, Aleen transforms into being quiet, yet attentive and becomes very studious, always turning in his work on time.
Juggling work, school and extracurricular activities is a tough time management commitment for him, and sometimes results in sacrifice of sleep in order to get things done. Aleen claims his parents are the main reason why he held on for so long. “My parents gave up their time, resources, and sleep to fully guide me and my siblings to the right path,” he said. In order for him to repay his parents for their love and care, he wants to make them proud and live a stable and comfortable life.
“Small things build up and revolve back to you” became Aleen’s motto, suggesting that effort and commitment adds up, later opening new doors of opportunity and soon repaying you for your passion. Aleen Patrico’s diligence paid off when he was recognized as one of the outstanding Cum Laude students in H.P. Baldwin High School’s Class of 2017.
Joanah Leano, another recent BHS graduate, is fascinated with human anatomy and is a promising doctor. Joanah was born in San Isidro, Kawayan City, Philippines, where she is welcomed by her grandmother’s warm pinakbet, Joanah’s favorite Filipino delicacy.
Joanah was inspired to pursue a medical career from watching medical Korean Dramas, because of their realistic and detailed operations that caught her attention. This fueled her desire to be a doctor so she could help citizens in need of medical assistance, especially in the Philippines where the predominance of people cannot afford the medical bills and do not receive medical treatments.
In 2004, Joanah moved to Maui with her dad and younger brother, while her mom and younger sister stayed behind until 2010. During those years, Joanah felt the pressure of being the eldest, filling in the empty spot of her mother for her younger brother. This experience led her to become more responsible, compassionate, organized and considerate.
Greatly influenced by her favorite subject, science, Joanah wants to explore different fields of the curative world, such as cardio surgery and pediatrics. Joanah is involved in several extracurricular activities including the Kabatak Club, where she is the Vice President, the Aloha Club, where she is a member, and the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decision) Club, where she was a previous Board member and planned events along with the other members.
Joanah has been a high achiever ever since she was young, always striving for the best. Her hard work for maintaining her grade point average of 3.9 to 4.0 helped her to land into an Advanced Placement Calculus class and the two colleges to which she applied. She plans to go to the University of Hawai‘i-Maui College for her first year to take prerequisite courses and save money to transfer to a college in Honolulu or the mainland to pursue a career in medicine or nursing.
Having Ilokano as her first language gave her a hard time with speaking English. Her friends and cousins helped her gradually become fluent. “Go with the flow” became my quote, she shares with a smile. She further concludes that you should be willing to accept circumstances, learn from them and move on, in order for you to be able to sail smoothly.
“My parents became my motivation to succeed,” Joanah stated. She wants to make her parents proud through her accomplishments and does not want to let them down. She certainly did not let them down, being one of the senior students who was awarded the Academic Honor Certificate and the honors title, Summa Cum Laude.
Truly, these students are remarkable. Both are driven by the passion to pursue their dreams, despite difficulties. Their success to be top notch among the Class of 2017 graduates of BHS is an inspiration, not only for the youth of today but for all who have dreams and aspirations to flourish. Deep in our hearts, we share the same sentiments and struggles, values, heritage and pride.
“I wish Joanah the best of luck in the future. I hope she continues to pursue art, either for a job or as a hobby, I will Miss Aleen,” their teachers said as they bid goodbye, hoping for the best while they carry on the wisdom that they learned in school and as an exemplary role models for the next generation.