Spotlight On: Carlos Joquin

Our March spotlight profiles HHS junior Carlos Joquin: a student who uses past mistakes to try and help his peers.


Born in New Jersey and raised in Holyoke – Carlos Joquin is an example of an amazing student. Although his high school career started off rocky, he refused to be another statistic who did not graduate. Today, he serves as an inspiration to his peers.

Carlos is a junior at Holyoke High and is currently working hard to make up credits to qualify as a senior. Carlos shared his story with The Herald to inspire freshman not to make the same mistakes he did.

Carlos started off his freshman year great, playing sports and making the honor roll. At the second half of the year, he was diagnosed with insomnia, and that started getting in the way of focusing on school.

“[The insomnia] stepped up a lot,” recalled Carlos. “So I started missing a lot of school and my grades dropped.”

After repeating freshman year, he knew he didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Joquin knew that he was in trouble academically and started to work hard at fixing it. He stayed after school, made up work, and focused on his grades.

When basketball season came around, he was able to play because his grades met the athletic standard.

“My coaches kept me motivated,” said Joquin. “They told me to keep doing well in school, keep doing what I had too, and I started focusing on that.” Carlos played sports and finished his sophomore year. He is now listed as a junior, with the chance to earn enough credits to graduate this year as a senior as a part of his original class.

Joquin believes this experience helped him become who he was. “I was like any other kid, just wanting to hang out with friends and have fun but I knew I couldn’t do that because everyone was a grade ahead of me,” he said. “So I know I had to make up work, and finish it. This took away time from my fiends but I know in the long run it would help me. I just had to persevere through it.”

Carlos shared with The Herald that he would be the first child of his family to graduate high school. “I just want to make my mom proud. Show her that I can do it.”

Carlos is also a member of the Restorative Justice Leadership program, new to the school this year. Restorative Justice works with students to solve problems, and calls upon the Restorative Justice peer leaders to help their peers solve conflicts and be role models for others in the school.

Some of Carlos' RJ colleagues.
Some of Carlos’ Restorative Justice colleagues.

As a student who repeated freshman year, Carlos could have easily been one of the students who “fell through the cracks” and failed to graduate. Instead, he buckled down and worked hard, and now he tries to inspire his peers who may be in similar situations by sharing his story.

Joquin has helped multiple classmates this year by sharing his experiences. He meets with the students and offers them advice to the best of his ability. He see his role (and the role of his fellow RJ peer leaders) as trying to “make this school a better place and address the problems that [we] need to shine a light on.”

Restorative Justice coordinator Jerica Coffery describes Carlos as “an amazing young person with challenges in school that he overcame.” She finds him really talented at dealing with conflict and says he works hard for changes in the school that would benefit students.

Carlos’s advice to his peers? “Take advantage of your freshman year. A lot of people don’t think it matters but a lot of colleges and schools look at your freshman year. If I knew what I do now, then I wouldn’t have messed up. Just take it day by day and persevere.”

This year, a focus at Holyoke High has been trying to help ninth graders find success because ninth grade performance is a big indicator of eventual graduation. All freshmen who find themselves struggling would be wise to look to Carlos as a peer mentor and heed his wise advice.