"I'm a recovering drug addict. I've been clean for about 42 months now," Avilez said.
Avilez said drugs were around him during his childhood, but he didn't try them until he graduated from high school and moved to the mainland.
"It led to crime, all kinds of stuff, homelessness," recalled Avilez. "I was incarcerated here for about 15 months total and I'm a graduate of the Maui drug court program."
A counselor told him education was the answer. Avilez finally turned his life around, and began going to college with the help of scholarships from the Hawaii Community Foundation.
"I probably would be more stressed out, not doing as well in school, preoccupied with thinking, 'Wow, how am I gonna pay for that?' said Avilez. "My economic situation is alleviated greatly by the kindness of the people that are donors."
Now he can focus on pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor. Avilez plans to transfer to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to finish his biology and Hawaiian language studies. His journey hasn't been easy, but he is a role model for others struggling to overcome addiction.
"Same like getting a scholarship. It takes some effort to put in the application, work all the details out, but the payoff is rewarding," said Avilez.