Celebrate our 2018 graduates: Family loss impetus to pursue medical career

  • Rapoza

Starting today, the Tribune-Herald is kicking off a three-day series of profiles featuring six graduating high school students from each of the six public high schools in East Hawaii.

Students were selected by school administrators. The high schools are:


Hilo and Waiakea (today)

Keaau and Pahoa (Wednesday)

Honokaa and Ka‘u (Thursday)

Stories by KIRSTEN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

Kylyn Rapoza, 18

Hometown: Hilo

GPA: above 4.0

Plans after high school? I plan on attending Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, Wash.) and studying premedical health. I have always been interested in helping others and the medical field. I want to one day become a pediatric oncologist because I love kids and I love working with kids.

I lost my great-grandmother this past summer to breast cancer. She’d had breast cancer once before and it came back. I just saw how the doctors worked for her in her last hours and days and they made sure she had everything she needed. They were really good to her and cared for her so I want to be there for someone else in their difficult times, or hopefully be able to see them as they go into remission and get better.

Extracurricular activities/hobbies? When I have a free weekend, which doesn’t happen very often, I try to make the most of it. I really like to just read, write, spend time with my family, go for runs and go for hikes.

In past years I did cross-country and track (for Hilo High) but this school year I wasn’t able to do a lot (of extracurricular activities) because back in November, I actually won Miss Hawaii Teen USA (2018). It was the first time a girl (from East Hawaii) won in 20 years. When I won that, I immediately went into preparing for nationals so I’ve put a lot of time and training into that (including) interview training, walking training and physical training.

(Rapoza missed Friday night’s graduation because the Miss Teen USA pageant fell on the same day.)

How do you feel about missing your graduation? When I saw the date was the same night as graduation, I immediately knew what I had to do and I knew this opportunity to represent the whole state on a national level was too good to pass up. So, although I am saddened to not be there with my class, I know in spirit I will be there. It’s very exciting, this is something our community hasn’t seen for two decades and the amount of support I’ve gotten has been immense. So I’m excited to put Hilo on the map.

Ten years from now where do you hope to be? I hope to either be working in a hospital like (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital) or even have my own practice. And I hope to have a family. I hope to go wherever the world takes me and to take whatever opportunity comes my way. I hope to be happy and to make my family proud.


Hilo High’s remaining valedictorians this year were as follows:

Ara Uhr, Brianna Hirata, Erin Sugiyama, Kimokeo Bowden, Jr., Isabel Fukushima, Kailee Kurokawa, Skyler Chong, Gil Assi, Lacey Shiigi, Katelin Branco, Ammina-Josie Galdones, Brandon Nosaka, Jacinda Angelsberg, Alana Orita-Medeiros

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.