Kaniala Aragon almost lost his life as a baby, because he suffered from infantile seizures and the closest healthcare clinic was far away from where his family was living in poverty in Hawaii’s Manoa Valley. On Friday, December 9th, 2023, he walked across the stage to collect his B.S. in Biology degree at Marian University of Wisconsin’s Commencement. He was also the Student Commencement speaker.
Aragon’s family made their way to Wisconsin, where they lived with his maternal grandparents for a few months. Eventually, they landed in Columbus, WI, where Aragon grew up and attended Columbus High School. He was chosen to represent the school at “Badger Boys State” leadership camp. A college fair at the camp was his first exposure to college and Marian University. “I didn’t want to go to college. I thought it was a waste of money and my grades were not good,” said Aragon. “I wasn’t built for college.”
But his mother wanted him to go. He had an interest in Radiologic Technology and enrolled at Marian University. His grades rebounded and he even made the Dean’s List.
After his first semester at Marian, Aragon returned to Columbus to work as a CNA at a nursing home. After an accident while trying to lift a patient, he suffered a spinal injury. For a while, his life revolved around pain and pain medication and he slipped into depression. His parents divorced, he gained 50 lbs. and he lost his social life. Reading about his injury made
him realize he had an interest in medicine. He switched his major to Biology, with the intent of
applying to medical school. He kept his grades up and maintained a 4.0.
As he recovered, Aragon joined Campus Ministry at Marian University and became a tireless volunteer for charitable organizations in Fond du Lac. He was hired at the Family Resource Center of Fond du Lac County as a Visitation Supervisor, supervising visits between family and children for the courts. He also learned to teach first-aid basics to children, write grants, do outreach and speak to organizations like Rotary Club. “I was able to see the full spectrum of good and bad parents and where the system fails children,” he said. “These are populations I hope to serve someday as a physician.”
As President of Campus Ministry at Marian University, he helped lead a Mission Trip to the Navaho Nation in New Mexico, worked on a major food drive for Ruby’s Pantry and also organized a toy drive this month that collected and wrapped over 150 toys for local underserved children. In December, the Family Resource Center of Fond du Lac County promoted him to Interim Executive Director.