Author: Jazmyne Pennington

Loreto Mendoza Jr.

Loreto Mendoza Jr. is a 25-year-old from Maui and is currently in the Respiratory Care Program at Kapiolani Community College.

After graduating high school, Mendoza was a combat engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He specialized in working with explosives and urban breaching. In 2014, Mendoza deployed to Afghanistan with a B billet as a 240 Bravo machine gunner.

Mendoza enjoys the Respiratory program because of the opportunity to work with people. 

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Kiara Bell

Kiara Bell is a 30-year-old Liberal Arts major from Warner Robins, Ga. Although majoring in Liberal Arts, his focus is in History.

Before attending KCC, Bell served for seven years as an Embarkation Specialist in the U.S. Marines. During his service, he was deployed twice to Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom.

At 19-years-old, Bell joined the Marines to support his family. He also came from a family of veterans, including his mom and brothers. Bell explained that he was able to experience more than his peers at that age, and had opportunities to travel and interact with different people and high-level agencies. Bell feels that he was presented with many positive influences.

During his deployments, Bell explained that because of always being forward deployed, and not always able to communicate, there was a lot of stress on his family. He was unable to attend the birth of his first son, and his marriage became strained. After he returned, he struggled with the impact of engaging in combat, losing friends in combat, and having to cope with everything on his own. Bell struggled with negative thoughts and emotions that impacted his personal life.

Of all of the places that he was able to travel, Bell states that Germany was one of his favorites. His favorite aspect of serving in the Marines was the ability to travel, and the opportunity to see the world and meet new people.

When asked what advice he would give anyone considering joining the military, Bell said, “Do your research. Do your research and know what you want. Take note of your skills and don’t let anyone pressure you into taking a job you don’t want.”

Now Bell spends his time attending classes at Kapi’olani Community College and can often be found helping out his peers in the Veteran & Military Resource Center. In his free time, he enjoys exercising, going to the beach, and hiking with his dog.

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Voices & Views

  • Aldrin CalilaoAldrin Calilao
    Aldrin Calilao from Kihei, Maui, came to KCC for the Physical Therapist Assistant program and said that it is too soon to tell if he will return home after he finishes. While he enjoys hiking, going to the beach, watching sunsets, swimming, and hanging out with friends, he didn’t have a chance to explore much of the island of Oʻahu yet as he is spending most of his time studying. He found it difficult to make friends once he came here but eventually made friends in his courses. “I just gotta find my place here and start off slowly talking to people," Calilao said. Calilao stays with his aunt in Kalihi helping out around the house. He enjoys the campus but doesn’t know if he would change anything as he has only been on campus since the beginning of the semester. He went to UH Hilo and UH Maui before this and says that some similarities between the campuses are how the students get to know each other and bond together. With all the clubs and organizations on campus, Calilao said that he would enjoy seeing something like a Relay for Life event to help out the community.