Mckenzie Weimer’s Essay

There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Nowhere but in Kona is this truer.  I believe that this upbringing has helped me both personally and educationally to develop my goals. Moving to California with this outlook on life has given me the chance to explore and focus on these goals for both my schooling and life thereafter.  Growing up in Kona has fostered these ambitions and given me a supportive network of people to encourage and help me along my road to success.  After graduating from Kealakehe High school in 2002, I moved to San Diego having never been
to California before.  Since then, I have earned a degree in transfer studies from San Diego Mesa College and am currently enrolled in my first semester at San Diego State University.  During my time at Mesa, I figured out how to manage my time and balance my school and social life.  Meeting new people, picking up new hobbies and maintaining nearly a perfect GPA were all things I strived to accomplish. I am currently a junior at SDSU working towards my major in Child & Family Development.

When I graduate I will have a degree in Child & Family Development with an emphasis on Families with Special Needs Children. I also hope to pursue a master’s degree at SDSU in the same field.  By this time, I foresee myself working in an autism center here in San Diego. At the center I would be working as a counselor helping parents and families raise special needs children to become productive members of society. Another major career goal of mine is to stop the stigmas that are attached to children with autism.

Over the past year, it has become very clear to me just how differently society treats children with special needs. This has intensified my desire to work with children with social disorders. I am a full time nanny for a family that has a four-year-old son, Jacob that has been diagnosed with autism.
I try to live by the theory that everything happens for a reason; and through this family, and Jacob specifically, I have found a direction for my study and a meaningful way to support myself while in school.  This has also introduced me to a network of people in the special needs branch of Child Development. I interact with these professionals daily and use what I learn in my understanding
of Jacob.

The perseverance that is needed to understand Jacob, and the struggles his family undergoes daily are eye opening. Autism is a social based disorder, simple things such as hugs, and playing with other children are milestones we work towards.  It takes someone with patience and compassion to do these things; but the rewards, smiles and breakthroughs I see and get to be a part of each day are priceless.  This gives me the motivation and newfound ambition that enables me to enjoy my classes.

Losing my mom to Cancer this past November sealed my hope in the spirit and power of aloha and my ambitions to be able to pass this on through my work.  After her death, I was showered with love and support from everyone back in the islands.  At a time when I felt alone, my spirits were lifted, and everyone was there to get me through the hard days.  That is what sets Kona apart; the genuine and real compassion the community members have for one another.

This is my driving force for my career and life goals.  I want to impact families in a very personal way through my work. Our future is our children, instilling lasting positive values and a sense of ethics from the beginning is what I’d love to teach parents how to do.  I hope to spread this through my work in California.  I can’t say that growing up in Kona has prepared me for life; but I can say it did give me the compassion and sincerity that allows me to hurdle the challenges I face daily.

I feel that I am somebody that truly has been raised by a village. As a teenager, my single father raised both my two brothers and myself. I was very fortunate to have the love and support of several hanai families. These families were there to guide me and fill in the gaps where my nuclear family was unable to. These relationships developed me into the strong, self-confident and goal-oriented person that I am; a person I am proud of.  I have the community of Kona to thank for the morals and values that have been instilled in me.  Teachers, coaches, uncles, aunties; everybody was always there with open hearts and homes.  Now that California is my home, I have discovered that I have not lost my village, I have just added to my ohana. San Diego has become my extended village.