Kolokea Kauaula

Kolokea Kauaula's photo

What’s your passion?
Learning more about cultures and other indigenous communities.

How would you describe your personal journey in life?
Like the ocean, there are calm seas, rough seas, the unknown, peace and chaos. Future? I honestly do not know, just focusing on the now.

Why did you choose to attend UH Hilo?
I wanted to continue my journey in ʻŌlelo Hawai‘i and find a place that is a “home away from home,” and Hilo was it!

Why did you choose your major?
I grew up speaking ʻŌlelo Hawai‘i and graduated from a Hawaiian immersion school. Knowing that, I did not want to lose that connection and part of myself. I knew UH Hilo had a great ʻŌlelo program, so I took it upon myself to strengthen and grow in my native tongue.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life or at UH Hilo?
One main lesson I learned at UH Hilo is to find your hui, a small community of friends, peers and mentors who will support and encourage you in your life journey!

What would be your personal motto?
“Let it go, let it flow” – don’t force things to happen. If it is not meant to be, let it go, and let things flow naturally.

What are some causes that you care about?
Anything with aloha, ʻāina, teaching children, helping people/communities.

Olatunji Gbadebo

Olatunji Gbadebo

What’s your passion?
To make a difference in someone’s life even it may seem insignificant to the world.

How would you describe your personal journey in life?
Well traveled, cultured and respectful to all.

What does your future hold?
A chance to make an impact on the world we live in.

What makes the program unique?
The professors really go out of their way to make it feel like a family and the student body is very close and supportive.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about coming to UH Hilo?
The campus is like a big family and even though you may have to move away from home everyone is very supportive of you on your educational journey.

What campus clubs or activities are you involved in?
American Pharmacist Association Academy of Student Pharmacists, Hawai‘i Student Society of Health Systems Pharmacy and Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, National Pharmacists Association, Kappa Psi Epsilon Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Annual Health Fair, DKICP Student Ambassador.

What are your dreams?
To become a Pharmacist. 

What are some causes that you care about?
Civil rights, sustainability projects, saving animals from cruelty.  

Name a few of your daily habits.
Checking my calendar, walking my dog, exercising, meditating, journaling. 

Mekaila Pasco

Mekaila Pasco

Aloha Kākou! ʻO Mekaila koʻu inoa. Welcome! My name is Mekaila Pasco, but most of my friends just call me Kaila. I was born and raised here on the Big Island of Hawai‘i in the beautiful town of North Kohala. I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. I am also hoping to progress further in my field of interest to obtain a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.

What’s your passion?

My greatest passion in life is learning how to understand people. I enjoy meeting new people and helping others when I have the opportunity. I often find myself coaching, tutoring, counseling, or just listening to others because knowing people fascinates me. I like knowing how people filter and channel their emotions, why people do certain things, and what motivates them to do wrong or right. My biggest goal in life is to become a school counselor with the intention of guiding and supporting students in every way possible.

How would you describe your personal journey in life?

If I could summarize my entire journey through life with one word, I would use the word “thriving” because that’s all I ever try to do. I enjoy trying new things, being a part of different communities, and networking with different people. All my life I have prospered during the best times, but during the hardest times is when I truly began to thrive. I learned how to open up to the world and how to take the good with the bad as you should with everything you encounter. Although I am proud and humbled by my past experiences, I also know that I still have an entire life ahead of me and I can’t wait to live it.

What does your future hold?

I truly believe that my future holds everything I’ve ever wanted. When I close my eyes and imagine where I will be 5 or 10 years from now, I still see the same enthusiastic, loving, and vibrant person that I see now. I imagine that I’m slowly working my way through Graduate school, pursuing all of my wildest dreams. I see myself stressing over exams and maturing to a higher level, but I also see my relationships getting stronger and my education increasing. The future is never secured, so I always remind myself to live in the moment.

What campus clubs or activities are you involved in?

I am currently an Event Planner on the Student Activities Council (SAC). I applied for this position last year because I did Student Council in high school and absolutely loved it. I often see myself as a leader, but I decided to not take on a leadership position because I wanted to focus more on my school work. Right now, SAC is mostly an extracurricular activity and creative outlet for me than it is a job. The work can be demanding, but you learn so many skills from this program and you get to meet so many wonderful students.

For future UH Hilo students, is there any wisdom you would like to pass on? What would you want them to know?

If I met someone who was debating whether or not they should attend UH Hilo, I would immediately jump up and tell them every single thing there is to love about this university. However, I would be honest when it comes to defining my experience as a college student in general. The piece of advice or wisdom that I would pass on is to never procrastinate and if you ever need assistance, to always ask for it because the staff and faculty will help you. I would want others to know that UH Hilo cultivates student learning in more ways than one. The staff and faculty at UH Hilo do everything they can to encourage their students in all aspects whether it’s cultural, social, recreational, or educational.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life or at UH Hilo?

There are many important lessons I’ve learned from UH Hilo, being a college student, being a first generation college student, and from life in general. The first being that college really does push you to mature and progress as an adult because your educational journey through college will solely depend on your love for learning and why you get out of bed every morning. The second lesson I learned very harshly is that you also have to learn how to take care of yourself, mentally and physically. I got so caught up in my courses and other responsibilities that sometimes I forgot to eat or take breaks, which isn’t how it should be. The biggest lesson I had to learn the hard way was to take care of myself and to learn that it’s ok to say no to extra work sometimes in order to give yourself a well-deserved break.

What would be your personal motto?

My motto for everything I do in life is “when you feel like giving up, remember why you started.” This quote is literally a life saver and comes in real handy when you are close to giving up. Sometimes it was school, family, friendships, work, or even sports that got in the way of me being happy. Managing all of these things could be the most difficult and stressful part of adolescence, but having a safe haven to turn to is always the best outcome. I also like to tell myself that “everything happens for a reason” because I truly believe that it does.

If you could be anywhere other than here, where would you be?

I always wanted to go to New Zealand because of how much fun things they have to offer. I was trying to Study Abroad at the beginning of this year, but after the pandemic hit I knew I couldn’t follow through with my plans. However, if given the chance I would definitely try to find a way to get there whether it be through Study Abroad or a family trip. I always wanted to try the Nevis bungy jump, the Waitomo glowworm caves, and the ZORB Rotorua hamster balls course. Not to mention the beautiful beaches and waterfalls that I know I would absolutely fall in love with.

What are you happiest doing?

I am happiest when I am around other people, whether it be strangers, family, friends, or even animals. I enjoy riding horses, playing volleyball, and adventuring with my friends. When I ride a horse, I feel free and as if the entire weight of the world is lifted off my shoulders. When I’m playing volleyball, I get lost in the moment and satisfy my competitive genes. I also love to adventure with my friends because we’re always finding new, cool places to lounge around or explore.

Ricky Anderson

Meet Jonathan (Ricky) Anderson, a student with a business administration major and a focus in marketing. Listen as he shares his journey of being a student at UH Hilo through his involvement on campus.

Video editing by: Sycamore Mitchell and Cinestie Olson.

Hokulani Fortunato and Uilani Kualii

UH Hilo alumni, Hokulani Fortunato and Uilani Kualii, share their passion for ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi and how #UHHilo led them to their current path as County of Hawai‘i advocates, focused on developing youth leaders to help revitalize the Puna area.

If you’re interested in joining their Youth Resilience Action Team, contact Hoku at hokulani.fortunato@hawaiicounty.gov, Ui at chelsie.kualii@hawaiicounty.gov, or fill out their online form at: http://go.hawaii.edu/geV

#VulcanVIBE #MyHiloJourney

Video by: UH Hilo student Sycamore Mitchell

Darienne Kealoha

Darienne Kealoha

Marine Science major transforms her life’s journey at UH Hilo

With a deep breath, the nerves in her voice started reverberating throughout the room, changing from quaking to quiet.

Darienne Kealoha recalls the moment she found her confidence – her hilinaʻi, during an ‘oli chant test at Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani. It was a turning point for her, a moment that defines her even now, as a senior student in Marine Science, minoring in Communications, Hawaiian Studies, and History.

When she finished her ‘oli, there was complete silence. Instructor Malu Dudoit said, “That was amazing. Your voice is strong, you filled the whole room.”

Kealoha wasn’t always as confident as she is now. The eldest of four in a single-parent household, she struggled with depression in her high school sophomore year, affecting both her academic and personal life.

Although she came from a large family of Hawaiian ancestry, and attended Kamehameha Schools in Kapālama, she never felt truly connected to the ʻāina and her native culture. College wasn’t part of the story she had written for herself, and it was only as part of a graduation requirement and the behest of her family, that she applied to UH Hilo at all.

Attending UH Hilo transformed her perspective on life. A proud participant of the Summer 2019 Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES), Kealoha partnered with Kelsea Hosoda of the educational consulting business ‘Ike Papalua, helping to produce animated educational videos on Instagram and YouTube that talked about genetic modification.

Being involved with the PIPES internship program taught her about research, and how important it is to be a part of the community, talking to the people who live in the area, and discovering things you never would otherwise.

Kealoha always had a creative interest in video. Her focus is on producing educational videos on marine science incorporating ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i for immersive learning in charter schools. In years past, she’s been involved as editor at Vulcan Video Productions (VVP) on campus, and this past year, she was general manager for VVP.

Her eventual goal is to become an Education Coordinator specializing in indigenized educational activities that kids can do at home. “By combining the necessity of working with my community and my passion for education through video media, I want to serve the Hawaiian community in this way,” says Kealoha.

UH Hilo helped Kealoha connect her identity to her ancestral roots. “Hilo has a Hawaiian mentality, it’s not about blood, but about home, and a way of life,” she says. At one point while growing up on O‘ahu, all she knew of Hawaiian culture was listening to Hawaiian music. Living in Hilo, she came to understand how important ʻāina and community are.

Kealoha’s journey hasn’t always been easy, even now. She relies on the support of her family and friends, and her black cat Mahina, who resides with her at the dorms. But she reminds herself of one thing and shares this advice with others: “Don’t be scared of failing – try to be as involved as possible. Everyone is dealing with something or is just as scared. Once you get over that fear, the entire world opens up for you.”

Holly Trowbridge

English student shares what inspires her most about UH Hilo

I applied to UH Hilo for multiple reasons. I wanted an avenue to independence, and I wanted to be far away enough from home not to have my parents breathing down my neck, but close enough to home that I could travel back to ‘Oahu on a moment’s notice if that was ever needed. 

I’m so glad I got in, because as it happens, my family actually relocated to Oak Park, Illinois, and I was ready to attend UH Hilo! This meant that travelling quickly would no longer be an option, but it also meant that I would have the quintessential independent college experience. 

I learned so much more about myself, and my values by attending this university. I got very connected with the performing arts department, and I even changed my major from Pre-Nursing to English! I wrote for Ke Kalahea as a Staff Writer, and I got really involved with tons of different clubs.

UH Hilo taught me how to be an independent, more stylized me! I’ve grown in countless ways, and I’ve met so many amazing people along this journey. The community took me in, valued me, like a precious little stone — a red diamond, and loved me into a new and altered person. I was presented with a truly valuable experience, and for that I will be forever grateful. Now I am on a road to who knows where, as I graduate and explore the mainland. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next! Stay cool, stay fresh, my UHH ‘Ohana!