Kwaj Kid Turned Teacher: Christine Cruz

By James BrantleyMarch 15, 2023

Kwaj Kid Turned Teacher: Christine Cruz
Christine Cruz, a 2017 graduate of Kwajalein High School, returned to U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll to teach the island's youngest residents at the island's Child and Youth Services. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

People say that Kwajalein is shaped like a boomerang and people eventually come back to it over time. This is evident with several Kwaj kids, the term bestowed upon individuals who grew up part of their life on Kwajalein and have returned to live and work here.

When were you here as a kid?

I was on Kwajalein from when I was in the fifth grade until I graduated from Kwajalein High School. I lived here for seven years, from 2010 to 2017.

How was it growing up here?

I had a wonderful childhood here in Kwaj. Though there were times that I missed living in the U.S. and seeing my old friends, I still enjoyed my time here because of the valuable relationships I have made with several members of the Kwaj community.

My favorite childhood memory was getting up early on a Sunday morning to go to Emon Beach to watch the sunrise for the first time.

Where did you go after graduation?

After I departed Kwaj, I attended the University of Kansas and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Shortly after, I began to pursue a master's degree in Public Administration. I also worked at Child and Youth Services at U.S. Army Cyber Command in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

What brings you back?

I came back to Kwaj because there was an opportunity for me to continue my career in CYS. Although I was already working in CYS, I decided to return to Kwaj because I consider it my second home.

Do you think the island has changed?

In terms of the place itself, nothing much has changed. When I arrived here, I could find my way around without difficulty. In terms of the community, although I know a lot of the people here, I have seen several new faces.

What is your role on Kwaj now?

I work as the lead teacher for the Preschool and Pre-K children at the Child Development Center. I am very comfortable teaching children in these age groups. I took on this position as I want to challenge myself as a novice teacher further.

What inspired you to be come a teacher?

My childhood experience in Kwaj was truly memorable. I want my students to have the same or an even better experience growing up here. I believe that I can accomplish that through teaching.

What is the best part of Kwaj life?

The best part about living on Kwaj is having everything close to me and having a solid support system.

Are there drawbacks to living on Kwaj?

One of the drawbacks to living on Kwaj is not being able to see my family often. Most of my favorite memories here were made when my family lived here.

Tell me about the kids on Kwaj and why you have dedicated your life to teaching.

The kids here on Kwaj are very friendly and are always willing to learn new things. I have dedicated my life to instruct them as I can relate to several of their life experiences. I want to help them overcome their hardships and reach their true potential.

How long have you been back on Kwaj, and is this the first time you've returned since you lived here?

I have been back on Kwaj since early June 2022. This is not the first time I have returned since I lived here. I visited my family here twice as a college student until 2018.