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Washington Voices

Lakeside grad Samoana Seelua turned life around

Samoana Seelua wants to be a substance-abuse counselor and help young people in the area.
Samoana Seelua wants to be a substance-abuse counselor and help young people in the area.

Samoana Seelua didn’t think that college was an option. As a freshman, she says she was rebellious and she had a 0.83 GPA.

“I wasn’t really motivated,” she said. “Nobody talked to me about college.”

The Lakeside High School senior began the process of bringing up her grade-point average the second half of her junior year, and she credits three teachers with helping her turn things around. It was their belief in her that made her begin to think about her future and college. Even after many friends dropped out, Seelua knew that wasn’t the path she wanted to take.

“I didn’t want to be like that,” she said. “I wanted to prove it to them.”

Seelua’s family does not own a computer, so she stays after school or drives to the local library to do homework and research for her project on Samoan art. The project, coupled with a leadership camp put together by The Native Project, has given her opportunities to connect with her Samoan heritage.

Her fierce protectiveness of loved ones – a ferocity that led to some labeling her as a “bad kid” – has given her a direction in life. The pain of seeing the ones she cares about being discouraged or discriminated against has propelled her mission to help others who are in the same situation.

She has lost friendships to substance abuse and said suicide seems to be prevalent in the area where she lives. She hates the thought of others feeling alone. She wants to help her community, to help kids like her and her brother.

“It just hurts,” she said. “These are my people.”

She plans to earn a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in social work and become a substance-abuse counselor.

She wants to stay in the Spokane area and help bring change. Seelua is working hard to bring up her grade-point average before she graduates and plans to attend a community college before applying to Eastern Washington University.

She wants to be the person to help guide young people who may have been labeled a “bad kid” or who feel like no one cares about their future.