Kubasaki High School
OKINAWA, Japan — With a rich history dating back over six decades, Kubasaki High School has seen its fair share of accomplished alumni. Yet Kubasaki HS class of 2013 graduate Adrian Cauguiran, a gifted and accomplished entrepreneur by any measure, is already soaring along a formidable arc of contributions to the Kubasaki Dragon tradition.
The young business owner and one of the Department of Defense Education Activity's most ambitious graduates said he is determined to "leave a dent in the universe."
By melding his entrepreneurial spirit with philanthropy, Cauguiran redefined achievement as a high school student. Before securing the second-most YouTube subscribers in Japan and earning $175,000 on the sale of his first business—as a high school freshman no less—Cauguiran dedicated his formative years to providing free computer tutorials to the world.
With more than 1,000 computer software and hardware tutorial videos uploaded to date, and a major business deal to sell the rights to his first technology website, Cauguiran has already made a positive impression in the areas of technology and education. And he has even bigger and more important plans ahead as he begins working on projects to provide free e-learning resources to children in the Philippines and Africa.
Cauguiran's passion for computers started to emerge as early as 6th grade when he spent hours reading the internet and scouring local library stacks trying to figure out how to fix his broken computer. He eventually cracked open his computer case and began a hands-on, self-discovery journey to learn about every part.
"I ended up finding out that it was my power supply that was shot," said Cauguiran, a native of Okinawa, Japan and DoD schools student for 11 of his 12 school years. "I realized a lot of people probably needed help with these common problems. Rather than teach people on a local scale in a [single] classroom, I thought that the internet was global, and I could use YouTube to reach all of these people who are having the same exact problems."
At the age of 12, Cauguiran invested in a webcam and learned how to create screencasts of the computer operating system desktop and associated software programs. He conducted research to determine the top 20 computer problems queried in major search engines like Google and then created custom screencasts to help others fix their problems. One day, he received a request from a company to review their new $600 solid state hard drive—a revolutionary product at the time. This sparked Cauguiran's interest in turning his hobby into a profitable business by contacting other technology companies to review their products.
Cauguiran went on to develop a more advanced web site and started receiving more than $400 for each ad on the site. A modest beginning soon grew into substantial site traffic and ad revenues. A year later, as a freshmen in high school, Cauguiran said he knew he was on to something when, "a tech company contacted me for content on 'how to' sites. They wanted rights and royalties to my site and offered me $175,000. That number blew me away."
At the tender age of 15, Cauguiran had ample cash to buy just about anything a teenager could imagine. Yet, like a seasoned business professional, he chose instead to reinvest the bulk of the proceeds into his next business venture Digital Dojos which he still operates today alongside a non-profit organization he formed as a high school senior called Smarter Media.
While attending Kubasaki HS, Cauguiran took advantage of the Career and Technical Education course offerings such as Computer Service and Support and CISCO Networking. Although he knew a great deal about computers before attending the classes, he was eager to learn more and each class gave him new ideas for tutorials.
"He is incredibly enthusiastic about technology and Adrian has always been one of my go-to guys," said Darren Shaver, a CISCO academy instructor at Kubasaki HS. "Adrian has always had an enthusiasm for the hardware and software, and I will go to him if I want to know something because I can't keep up with it. He's always willing to help out."
As his web-based business continues to expand, Cauguiran is keen on the bigger picture and remembering those who helped him find such remarkable early success: his parents and grandmother who raised him. They are originally from the Philippines, a country Cauguiran visited several times while growing up and where he came to understand that humble circumstances may limit educational and career options—even for the most industrious and capable individuals.
"Growing up and being in the Filipino culture, I feel there is somewhat of a disconnection between us," said Cauguiran, whose father's service in the U.S. Navy provided unique opportunities for him and his siblings. "They have no cold water or electricity in some areas. Going there to see my grandma who raised me, I think, 'What can I do to change this and help out the family?'" he added.
Wendy Cooley, Kubasaki High School's assistant principal, said Cauguiran's altruism and philanthropy are what impressed her the most, "we have a student who is highly successful, more so than any that you would see inside or outside of DoDEA, yet instead of looking at what's in it for him, he cares so much about others."
"Adrian talked about the need for education and about his family in Philippines and what he has seen, noticing that they don't have the same access to education that we have, including lack of wireless infrastructure in some locations, so he dreamed up a project to partner with education companies like Dell and HP to download lessons onto hard drives in computers to get them to remote areas of Africa and the Philippines," Cooley added. "The fact that an 18 year old is thinking about how he can contribute in educating children in the world today and in the future is simply remarkable."
Upon seeing Cauguiran deliver a business presentation at a recent Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology event, Cooley said he is just as inspiring as his own hero, Steve Jobs.
"The person I idolized was Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple Inc.," said Cauguiran, "I remembered seeing his commencement speech to the graduating class at Stanford University in 2005 where he said that work is going to fill up a huge part of your life, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. I really love doing this. This is all I want to do."
Cauguiran was a guest speaker during his senior class' commencement ceremony on June 8 and he reminded his peers that although they are understandably apprehensive about the future, channeling that fear into forward momentum is the key to success, "the fact is, I'm scared of what's to come … what's next. But remember, through fear or failure, it's about what you can do when you're scared that counts." He went on to leave them with wise words well beyond his 18 years, "Dare to create, dare to succeed, and most importantly graduates, dare to fail … because with failure ultimately comes success."
With high school behind him, Cauguiran said he plans on continuing to grow his business so he can continue giving back, "whether it's a video that inspires someone to do bigger things or it is a product that changes someone's life, I want to leave behind something that goes beyond me."
About DoDEA Pacific:
The first organized schools for the children of U.S. military personnel serving in the Pacific were established in 1946 during post-World War II reconstruction. Throughout the decades, Department of Defense schools evolved to become a comprehensive and high-performing K-12 school system solely dedicated to educating the children of America's heroes. Today, DoDEA Pacific's 49 schools serve over 23,500 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families stationed throughout the Pacific theater. The DoDEA Pacific teaching, administrative and school support team includes more than 3,300 full-time professionals. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.