Photo by Anika Ramos
In today’s society, many high school students work for various purposes; some want to get a headstart on their college funding while others are looking for an opportunity to acquire more spending money. In 2017, about 20 percent of high school students had either a part-time or full-time job, and while many students are employed at local fast-food joints, some students have jobs that are more unique to their personal skills. Juniors Maysa Segovia and Lauren Ramos along with Senior Kelsie Kuniyoshi all have jobs that are influenced by their own interests.
“I decided to be a swim instructor because I grew up at the YMCA, I took swim lessons at a very young age, and I was on the YMCA swim team, later prompting me to join club swim. I wanted to share my experiences as a swimmer and want to give back to my people,” said Segovia.
Segovia, who is also part of the MHS swim and water polo team, is a swim instructor and a swim team coach at the Mililani YMCA. She works on Wednesdays and Fridays, teaching swim lessons to kids that are of three years of age and older, as well as adults. “I love my job because working with kids is fun as well as working with my coworkers since we know how to have fun while making sure we do our jobs the right way,” said Segovia. “Swimming has always been a part of my life and my family. Both of my sisters who have graduated from Mililani High School swam since they were little, and has been something we bonded over for a long time.”
Kuniyoshi’s jobs are also influenced by her childhood passion. She dances hula and Tahitian professionally and is a teaching assistant for ballet and hip hop with Na Maka O Pu‘uwai Aloha. “I started dancing hula when I was three. I started dancing Tahitian and hip hop when I was ten or nine. I started dancing jazz when I was 12, and I started dancing ballet and tap when I was 13. My whole life revolves around dance. Basically I’m always at the studio. I take dance here; I took hula my first two years of high school and I take dance now as a senior,” said Kuniyoshi.
Being able to teach younger students gives high school students a feel of what it is like for their own teachers to teach them. They also learn responsibility in the form of time management skills, as they have to balance the demands of school work with their job. “This job teaches you patience, responsibility, and teamwork because you can’t always do everything by yourself. Things happen that you may not expect and learning to be prepared for the unexpected and doing your best to overcome it is a great life skill to learn. It can be challenging at times because kids have a lot of energy and making sure they are safe at all times is our number one priority,” said Segovia. Kuniyoshi added, “I love kids but sometimes they can test me. They have attitudes, I mean I have an attitude too, but ballet is really disciplinary; they have to have the correct form, they have to know how to dance and I don’t want to waste parents’ money.”
Ramos, who has been playing piano since she has six, also knows the challenges of teaching children as she teaches piano lessons on Tuesdays and Fridays. “Sometimes I get frustrated because I’m a little impatient. I have to learn how to be more patient and to understand that they’re still young and they have a lot to learn,” said Ramos.
While working with kids is often difficult, it has its rewards. It makes students appreciate their own teachers and the effort that they put in to be able to educate the younger generations. “On all the holidays, they’re always giving me gifts, like chocolates, and it’s fun because I know they appreciate me. I always get to get hugs before they leave, and they’re like ‘Thank you Ms. Kelsie’ and I like it. Even if they’re naughty, they still say thank you and give me hugs,” said Kuniyoshi. Ramos added, “I think it’s nice to see how much they can learn and that I can be able to teach them that.”
While students get jobs for different reasons, the majority of them get valuable working experience. For students like Ramos, having a job that is enjoyable and personal can also be a stepping stone in looking for the right career to pursue. Ramos hopes to maybe open her own piano business in the future. For Kuniyoshi and Segovia, their jobs expanded their experience in leadership roles which will help to guide them in whatever path they choose.