Speech earns student award and scholarship

Kamehameha Schools Maui junior Aaren Soriano was crowned with the Eugene Freedman award for Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui on Jan. 25. 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 in an article published in “Kaleo O Na Ka,” the student news site of Kamehameha Schools Maui.

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.

Soriano will advance and represent Maui on the state level, where he’ll have the opportunity to advance to regional and national competition. Soriano was selected out of four Maui club Youth of the Year finalists.

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

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

In addition to performing service and giving 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, 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 more than 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.