Alex Siodia: Mentoring Opportunities and Hard Work Build a Teen Leader
LEFT: Alex Siodia poses for a photo with his parents. RIGHT: Alex Siodia gives his presentation at the Waimea Community Center. (PHOTO BY MA'ATA TUKUAFU | SPECIAL TO NHN)
Ma'ata Tukuafu 
Special to North Hawaii News
February 6, 2014


Helping kids become leaders takes mentoring and support. It doesn't just happen on its own. This is why Alex Siodia, a senior at HPA, held a "College Info Night" workshop for high school students - to offer up his story and share tips on how to apply for scholarships and colleges.


Hosted at the Waimea Community Center on Tuesday, Jan. 28, Siodia and two of his fellow students, Madi Inman and Scott Fetz, spoke to an audience about the importance of getting ready for college. Directed at the younger students in the audience, they addressed important points using a PowerPoint demonstration and printed handouts.


"Don't be afraid to brag," said Scott Fetz about applying for scholarships. "You really have to build yourself up for college, and grades do matter from your freshman year."


Siodia is part of the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative, an organization that prepares young people to "envision, plan and create their future." Headed by Marianne Larned, executive director, SHYLI works hard to help Hawaii's youth realize their full potential.


"We are losing our young people, and Hawaii is in trouble because we are not invested in people this age," Larned said. "We're really committed to (both) the future of this planet and Hawaii. When young people take the lead, all things are possible and all of us working together can make the biggest difference."


Without mentors, Siodia wouldn't be where he is today. On a full scholarship to HPA, Siodia is a Waimea Middle School alum who Patti Cook, remembers as once being very quiet and shy.


"It was 2008, and at the middle school we were getting serious about our tech building. We took six students, a boy and a girl from each grade, to meet at the legislature and Alex, a sixth grader, was one of them," Cook said. "We had appointments with Senator Kirk Caldwell, now the mayor of Honolulu. He stopped and asked the kids about the Spanish American War. Alex raises his hand and proceeds to tell him about it. Spanish history is his family story, and it was such an amazing moment."


After visiting with all of their appointments on a full day, Alex was the last student Cook dropped off. He told Cook, "This was great and I want to be a U.S. senator." He ended up being student body president in his eighth grade year, and was able to get up and talk in front of the student body.


Now a confident speaker after much hard work, Siodia said he will be majoring in political science and has applied to colleges in Washington, Boston and Miami.


"I want to give back to my community," Siodia told the audience. "My parents inspired me to get to where I am today. In the eighth grade, I was super shy and could never imagine doing something like this, but administrators and staff have helped me to get to where I am today."


Some of the questions Siodia and the other presenters asked was:

  • Should I go to college?
  • Do I enjoy studying and reading?

  • Do I have the high school preparation that will enable me to be successful in college?

  • Do I have the grades and test scores needed to gain admission to the college of my choice?

  • Do I have the maturity and sense of responsibility to handle the freedom and independence of a college environment?

  • Where do I see myself five years from now? Ten years from now?

  • What are my priorities in life? What is important to me? 

Councilman Margaret Wille addressed the audience and asked, "Think about what you care about, who you want to be and what makes you happy. What do you want to accomplish? Find out what you are good at and go for it!"


Siodia has been talking with his friends about college preparation and wants to make a difference by sharing what he knows. He is hardworking and committed, said Larned, and wants to make sure that other kids in this area get the same opportunity he has. 






College preparation advice from Alex Siodia


1. Select your high school courses wisely. College preparatory courses include English, social studies, mathematics, sciences, and foreign languages as a basis. Depending on your planned major, other courses are necessary or helpful, i.e.

mechanical drawing for an engineering major.

2. Develop good, disciplined study habits.

3. Work hard. A strong high school academic record is the best single evidence of the potential to handle college level work. Your high school grade point average is cumulative beginning in the ninth grade.

4. Get involved; develop hobbies and special interests.

5. Test your career ideas; get a summer part-time job or do volunteer work.

6. Read! Read! Read! Develop your vocabulary; develop your interests. Read for pleasure and information during your leisure time.

7. Develop personal characteristics that you feel will make you a better person, e.g. honesty, responsibility, etc.

8. Start talking to a variety of individuals about your college options and opportunities. Have candid discussions with your parents. Be honest and open with them and explain your reason for wanting to pursue a college education, regardless of where that college may be.

9. Pursue what you love. 




Sustainable Hawai'i Youth Leadership Initiative
P.O. Box 631669 Lanai City, HI 96763