I first met energetic Louise Baza at the Tamuning gym two years ago. She was refereeing a basketball game with her dad. Louise was born 9:30 p.m. on April 22, 1997, on Guam.
Her childhood was simple, carefree and fun. Her parents Fely and Steve Baza raised her with the help of her grandparents as part of the Baza family's goal to help her develop a strong foundation in life.
This 22-year-old spent her formative years and life as a teen without any reservations. She was definitely mischievous, naughty and humorous. Her two older brothers Michael and John have a very positive influence in her life. She highly respects and looks up to them. They encourage her to see the world and what it has to offer.
Although she admits to making some mistakes and failures, she addresses these as part of growing pains. Setbacks do not deter her interest in trying new things.
Louise looks up to her grandpa, Jesus Baza. He is stern, formidable and regimented with a sharp tongue and a witty sense of humor. Beneath her grandfather's strong character, Louise sees him as a gentle giant. For Louise, grandpa was disciplined and industrious. He was a businessman and jack of all trades.
Her best memory of her childhood was hanging out with grandpa in his garden as he tells her about plants and life. Louise's precious times spent with grandpa were among the happiest moments of her life.
When her grandfather died, it was her saddest.
Jesus Baza and his wife ingrained in her the significance of aiming for excellence and chasing her dream. They also instilled the value of family, respect, spirituality and to aim for a well-balanced life.
The kindest and most caring person in her life is her mom.
For Louise, Mom is her rock.
A big part of her life is the friendship she has with her pit bull name Blu. She gives him a back rub, runs around with him and talks to him when she had a difficult day.
Her best friend Angelica Unpingco also is another key part of her life. They have been friends since fourth grade and they graduated from the same high school. She describes her as very funny, creative with a beautiful kind soul. While Angelica has moved to California to live with her mom, they stay in touch regularly.
As she navigates young adult life, Louise lives by this tenet: “No matter how hard life may seem, there’s always something to be grateful for. The grass is greener where you water it.”
Louise hopes that in 10 years, she will have completed her doctorate in botany/plant science. This plant enthusiast also plans to travel to Austronesia to learn various types of plants unique to our part of the world.
She aims to turn her passion into owning a business in agriculture and which will feature Yo’amte, a CHamoru term for a deeper type of traditional healing. Producing and selling a plethora of fruits, vegetables, herbs and other plants that are native to the Marianas will be part of that plan.
Now that it is summer, she has two jobs: one as a line cook at Kadu Restaurant, which offers CHamoru dishes; and a summer internship at a local bank.
On her day off, she would go to the beach, or go hiking or fishing.
Louise is an inspiration to the youth with her positive outlook.
“Find your passion, something that inspires you, and strikes your curiosity, something that you love to do. It can be anything – be it big or small. As long as it makes you happy that’s the most important thing," she said.
Her family is her biggest support system. "Every day, they inspire and motivate me to be the best person that I can be and to put my heart into everything I do," she said.
She's determined to "help preserve my culture, to give back to my island’s community and to finish my undergraduate degree.”
Louise, your family must be proud of you.
Marie Virata Halloran is a registered nurse and Rainbows for All Children Guam/LifeWorks, Guam executive director