Graduates, Here’s to Small Beginnings
By Mikaela Rae Atoigue
“Don’t despise the small beginnings,” said Michael Phillip, Junior Life Coach at Life 360 Network, Inc. when asked what kind of advice he would give to the youth of today trying to better their future. In light of graduation season, we can now proudly introduce Michael as Private Phillip of the United States Army National Guard. Nearly three months ago Michael was shipped off to Basic Combat Training which he completed on the 3rd of May this year.
“Don’t despise the small beginnings”
Hopelessness is a common thing to find among youth living in Hawaii’s housing projects. But the young men and women of Life 360 have defied the odds in more ways than one. For those of us who dedicate our lives to serving these youth, it is in seeing these children become confident men and women who take their place in society that brings us the greatest joy.
Graduation season releases that bittersweet aroma of new possibilities. The atmosphere fills with the warm feeling that though some things are ending - the lives of so many young people are only just beginning. It is the bright light for a society that struggles as we watch them challenge the negativity that surrounds them.
One exciting jump-start on life is coming for Sinaia Kuka who is one of Life 360’s promising youths. She had the goal of being the first in her family to graduate from high school. Sinaia turned her tassel from the right to the left beside her fellow graduates at President William McKinley High school on Sunday, May 26, 2019 and made history. She, like so many of our kids at Life 360, is a walking testimony that you can defy the odds, you just have to want it. Sinaia said that she “felt pressured, alone at times but I always kept my head held high because I knew what I wanted. I wanted to graduate high school.” A desire like this one is what can set the change of a generation in motion.
“ I felt pressured, alone at times but I always kept my head held high because I knew what I wanted. I wanted to graduate high school.”
Once change is set in motion, it paves the way for others to join in on the action. Glenna Matauto who graduated on Saturday, May 25th, 2019 from Kaimuki High School, joined us only a little over a year ago. It is within that one year that Glenna stated that “Life 360 helped shape the person that I am today.” She explained how she was formerly someone who would do the bare minimum, someone who was pessimistic. Today, Glenna is firmly planted in something that has allowed her to flourish as a young adult. Life 360 has also provided her with the opportunity to nurture her gifts in media and film.
Similarly, we have seen a spark in our youth like 2019 graduate of President William McKinley High School Taliyah Adams. Furthermore, we have had the privilege of witnessing the growth of long-time Life 360 kids Larson Arechy, Dorine Karwon, Amy Rotuk, Landon Kintaro, Lonaleen Katsuta and others who were among the thirty-seven Life 360 youth that had the honor of graduating from high school this year. They are joined by three of our college graduates Ateluk Arechy (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Edlynne Harrell-Sanchez (Honolulu Community College) and Life Coach Pamela Petras (University of Hawaii at Manoa).
“Life 360 helped shape the person that I am today.”
Sinaia and Glenna, along with a number of their fellow graduates will be starting college this fall while Michael will be completing his second round of military training this month. What a year it has been to see these young men and women flourish and rise up to become the future leaders of our community. This year we have had the opportunity to work with so many amazing kids with so much potential. We are thankful for those who have chosen to call Life 360 their home and safe haven. For those of us who dedicate our lives to molding and shaping these Life 360 youth, we have a saying that goes “If God can use me to save just one, then it would all be worth it.”
As for our graduates, here’s to your small beginnings and to lives lived at their largest. In the words of Private Phillip, “I’m still in my ‘small beginnings’ and I love every part of it.” Love the small beginnings, embrace them, use them to as stepping stones to the greater. Congratulations Class of 2019, we love you!