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Hawaii teen wins $20,000 award


A Hawaii Preparatory Academy senior has received a $20,000 Horatio Alger National Scholarship for overcoming a difficult childhood to become a model student and citizen.

Malachi Kobayashi’s mother was 15 when he was born.

After his birth, she struggled with drug addiction and got in trouble with the law. At 4, Kobayashi was adopted by his grandparents.

Today, at 17, Kobayashi is a certified lifeguard, a student ambassador and captain of the academy’s boys varsity soccer team. He maintains a 3.3 grade-point average.

Kobayashi said his early years were tough, but that he is grateful to his grandparents for a nurturing, stable home. He is also happy to see his mother doing better these days.

She has gotten clean, he said, and is now married.

When Kobayashi was young, his mother "wasn’t making wise decisions," he said. "It was hard."

Kobayashi is one of 104 high school seniors — and the only student from Hawaii — to receive the national award from the Horatio Alger Association.

Each student gets a $20,000 scholarship for college.

Kobayashi said he wants to attend Azusa Pacific or Chapman universities, both in California. He plans to study public relations or communications.

The Horatio Alger National Scholarship is a need-based award, recognizing young people who have done well in the face of incredible odds. It bears the name of the 19th-century author who wrote about people overcoming adversity through good deeds and hard work.


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