Profile in Leadership
Q&A with John Medeiros
John Medeiros, 18, is on track for a lifetime of community service and leadership. He has a record as a super achiever — member, National Honor Society; graduate, Class of 2012 Waimea High School; graduate, Leadership Kaua`i Class of 2011 Pi`ina Hoku; finalist, 2012 Ho`okanaka award honoring exceptional leaders in the Kaua`i community; and winner, 2012 For Kaua`i Newspaper Aloha Spirit Award in the category of Youth Leadership.
For Kaua`i: When did you start volunteering?
JM: At the end of middle school and beginning of high school, I would help out with the Okinawan Family Festival. It made me happy to help out doing something small. It felt empowering.
FK: What do you see as your own leadership qualities?
JM: I like to get everyone on the bandwagon. I have a bit of a knack for that.
FK: What aspect of leadership do you wish to improve upon?
JM: I think I need to learn to stop micromanaging. I know everyone feels they can do it all on their own. It’s good to put trust in people working with you. I can improve on that.
FK: What do you think is the reason you were selected by popular vote for the January 2012 For Kaua`i Newspaper Spirit of Aloha Award in the youth leadership category?
JM: I’d had a trip to Washington, D.C., all expenses paid, from KIUC on the 2011 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Youth Tour. The trip was part of seeing government in action, to help breathe life into social studies at school. I applied for it. The competition was steep. They sent four of us from Kaua`i. Once we were there, we had to write and deliver a speech. It took me out of my comfort zone and I tried to the best of my ability to represent Hawai`i.
FK: In 2011 you enrolled in the Leadership Kaua`i youth program, Pi`ina Hoku. Refresh us about the project(s) you were involved in.
JM: One was a homeless hygienic drive. We distributed over 125 hygienic kits we put together with donations from the community and others, for example, shampoo, toothpaste, — and we served lunch at Hanapepe Salvation Army and then in Salt Pond and Lucy Wright parks.
The other project was a media contest open to teens across the state to promote teens helping other teens — Operation T.H.O.T. — and our goal with that is to help teens address social issues by promoting awareness and positive alternatives.
We put up a website introducing a media competition. Students could take videos, music videos, or write a song, stories, take photos, draw pictures — and it stuck to the theme of teens making positive choices. We hosted a website, distributed fliers, got the word out and solicited awards for winners. Contributions from all applicants got posted to the site. It’s still accessible for people to see, at the following website: http://thot.leadershipkauai.org/about.
FK: Why do you think you were among the nominees and then a finalist for the first ever Ho`okanaka Awards that drew nominations from all over Kaua`i to honor and celebrate exceptional leaders in the community?
JM: I guess I really have the heart for community service. When Aunty Sherry Patrick would ask for help with things [at Leadership Kaua`i], I was the first to stick up my hand and say I’m interested, what time do you want me there. I helped her with a whole bunch of things, for example, playing for gigs and for locales for leadership classes who had events. I think she saw my willingness to jump in and volunteer. That’s the family creed I was raised by.
FK: Has being involved in Leadership Kaua`i changed how you see yourself in the community?
JM: Yes, definitely. I look around and see all the improvements that can be made. It’s not a machine you maintain every once in a while; it’s a living, breathing community that so many can assist in so many ways. Leadership Kaua`i helped me be part of that.
FK: What’s your dream?
JM: I really like the field of sustainability engineering. My dream would be to see electrical cars all over Kaua`i and energy efficient communities, photovoltaic panels on every roof. I’m aiming toward that in college. I want to help be a pioneer among the people setting it up, and see Kaua`i flourish. I want to design sustainable infrastructure and green cities.
FK: What do you do in your spare time?
JM: Play ukulele and guitar.