Maikani Andres

Marine science major Maikani Andres from Palau talks about a typical day on campus, her passion for the ocean, and the various hands-on research opportunities available at #UHHilo.

Video filming by: Wolphgang Wolphagen
Video editing by: David Zachary Ramos

Amy Odaira

Amy Odaira's photo

My name is Amy Odaira. I’m a double major in Biology, B.S. and Japanese Studies, B.A. I was originally born and raised in Thailand till the age of 11, then moved to Hawai‘i with my family.

What’s your passion?
I have a lot of interests that comes and goes. What I consider my “passion” would be an interest or hobby that have stayed with me for as long as I can remember. Broadly speaking, my passion is in the field of arts, crafts, and any making of creative content. In my spare time I do a bit of drawing, photography, DIY crafting, music, etc. I also love seeing people showcase their art online. Perhaps that explains why I have a mild addiction of watching YouTube videos.

How would you describe your personal journey in life?
I don’t really see myself as having a clear path or journey in life. The future is always uncertain and for that I hold my goals and aspirations loosely. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in having goals or working hard. I work under a deep awareness that there are uncontrollable variables in life that can change the course of my journey. Right now, my sight is set on helping my community as an aspiring physician. The journey is long and there may be detours, but I hope with all my heart that that is what I get to do in the future.

What does your future hold?
Again, my future is uncertain, but my goal helps set me on a path to move toward. I’m an aspiring physician so after I graduate, I hope to eventually continue on to medical school after my gap years. What I do during those gap years is still up in the air, but ideally, I hope to spend that time interacting and serving the community I live in.

Why did you choose to attend UH Hilo?
I had a simple reason to why I chose to attend UH Hilo. I had considered going to the mainland for college however, I had a responsibility within my home in Hilo and a financial constrain that would make it hard to move away. UH Hilo is a reputable university, and it offered the programs I was interested in pursuing.

For future UH Hilo students, is there any wisdom you would like to pass on? What would you want them to know?
Thinking from the perspective of a science student, when I first started off as a freshman, I didn’t realize how large the number of opportunities there are for students to get involve with a professor’s research. As a science student, no matter what field you may be in, it’s very important to gain some sort of field research or lab training in preparation for entering the working world. I’d highly recommend building up connections with your professors, no matter what field of study you go into. There are so many resources, especially for those of disadvantaged backgrounds like me. Take advantage of the opportunities while you still have them. As a graduating senior, I can say that opportunities presented to you as a university student will not come by as frequently once you’re out of school.

What campus clubs or activities are you involved in?
I was and am currently involved in the pre-med club on campus called American Medical Students Association or AMSA (formerly known as Aspiring Doctors of Hilo). Through this club I was able to try my hands at a leadership role in the 2018 Relay for Life event. I also learned a lot from guest speakers who were often researchers or physicians from various fields. For a short while, I was also involved in Circle K, which is a community service club. This year, I joined the Board of Media Broadcasting CSO on campus which oversees a portion of student fees paid every semester. It’s been a learning experience carrying a heavier responsibility as a student leader overseeing funds and programs for students on campus.

What would be your personal motto?
I try my best to live by the words “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” from James 4:14 (ESV). Like I mentioned previously, there are many uncertainties in life. Personally, I like to have control and a set plan for what my life would look like in the upcoming years. But things don’t always go my way; the past years have been a strong testament to that. The motto helps remind me of the impermanence that exists everywhere, to chill out a bit, to be more flexible and accepting of change.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
I’ve been blessed to meet and know many great mentors, but my mother is my biggest influence in my life. She’s taught me many simple life skills, like gardening and cooking, and important life skills, like respect, manners, and relationship-building. She’s devoted many years of her life caring for young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. Although she herself never got a proper education till she passed the age of 22, she accomplished so much more than I had when I was 22 years old. Her awesomeness simply cannot be encapsulated in a paragraph. I have immense respect for her as a mother, a mentor, and a friend.

Flashback to when you were 10. What did you want to be when you grow up?
I wanted to be many things when I was younger, but my imagination was limited to what I was exposed to. I wanted to be a teacher, a café owner, an artist, a storyteller, a camerawoman, a singer, a fashion designer, and many more. My career aspiration was always changing but funny enough, nurses or doctors were at the bottom of my list, because as a child I did not enjoy going to the hospital at all. It’s ironic now that I’m studying hard to get into the medical field.

Jasmine Mahinapolū Koko-Casey

Koko Casey's photo

ʻAuhea ʻoukou e nā hoa makamaka ma kēia huakaʻi e ʻimi ʻia nei ke ao o ka naʻau! Eia mai au ʻo Jasmine Mahinapolū Koko-Casey, kapa mau ʻia naʻe ʻo Koko. No ka ʻāina e mehana ai ka ʻili i ka pā ikaika mai o ka lā, no Kīhei nō au, no ka mokupuni ʻoi mau ʻo ʻIhikapalaumāewa hoʻi. I kēia manawa ʻānō, he haumāna mulipuka wau ma lalo o ka papahana hoʻomākaukau kumu ʻo Kahuawaiola ma lalo o Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani. I kēlā makahiki aku nei, ua puka wau me kaʻu mau kēkelē laepua ma ka Haʻawina Hawaiʻi (kālele ʻōlelo) a me ke Kālaiʻōlelo (kālele pilinaʻōlelo). He kumu ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi pū wau ma lalo o Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani no kekahi papa e komo ai nā haumāna o Ke Kula ʻo Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu no ka ʻai pālua. 

Aloha nui kākou! My name is Jasmine Mahinapolū Koko-Casey, but I usually just go by Koko. I am from Kīhei, ʻIhikapalaumāewa (Maui). I am currently a graduate student in the indigenous teacher education program, Kahuawaiola, under Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani (KHʻUOK). Last year, I graduated with my bachelor degrees in Hawaiian Studies with a language emphasis and Linguistics with a structure/grammar emphasis. I am also a Hawaiian language lecturer under KHʻUOK that teaches students from Ke Kula ʻo Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu under the dual credit program.

What’s your passion? 

ʻO ka hoʻonaʻauao ʻana kuʻu hana aloha. Pōmaikaʻi hoʻi wau i ka hiki iaʻu ke ʻōlelo i ka ʻōlelo a koʻu poʻe kūpuna, ka ʻōlelo kupa nō hoʻi o neia ʻāina. ʻIke naʻe wau, i loko nō o koʻu aloha nui i ka ʻōlelo makuahine, he kuleana nō ia oʻu. 

Teaching is my passion. I’m so grateful that I am able to speak the language of my ancestors, the native language of this land. Even though I love teaching through my native tongue, I also realize that it is not just a passion, but a responsibility. 

How would you describe your personal journey in life? 

Ua pōmaikaʻi wau i ka ʻohana aloha nui. He ʻohana i kākoʻo a kōkua mai ma nā ʻano a pau. ʻO ka ʻoiaʻiʻo, ʻaʻole wau i hānai ʻia ma ka nohona Hawaiʻi; ʻaʻohe oʻu ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, ʻaʻohe oʻu nohona Hawaiʻi, ʻaʻohe oʻu kuanaʻike Hawaiʻi. Ua pau ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi ʻana ma koʻu ʻohana ma mua o koʻu hānau ʻia ʻana. Ma ka wā i hoʻomaka ai koʻu komo ʻana ma nā papa haʻawina Hawaiʻi ma ke kula waena, ma laila i ulu mai ai koʻu ʻiʻini nui e ʻimi ai i ka ʻike Hawaiʻi. A i kēia manawa, eia mai au ke hoʻohana maoli nei i ka ʻike i paʻa iaʻu ma ke aʻo ʻana i nā hanauna hou. No koʻu puka kula ʻana ma Mei, ua noi wau i kaʻu kumu ma ke kula waena e hana i koʻu lei i mea e ʻike ʻia ai kekahi ʻano o ka hoʻi ʻana aku i ka piko. 

I was truly privileged with a loving family, a family that supported and encouraged me in all ways possible. To be honest, I wasn’t raised speaking Hawaiian, I wasn’t raised in a traditional Hawaiian lifestyle, I wasn’t raised with a Hawaiian perspective. The language was lost in my family far before I was born. When I started taking Hawaiian studies classes in middle school, that’s where my love for Hawaiian knowledge came to be. And now, here I am, truly using my knowledge to educate the younger generations. For my graduation in May, I have asked my teacher from middle school to make my lei to really make this experience come full circle.

What does your future hold? 

Manaʻolana wau, he kumu wau no ke koena aku o ke ola. E hoʻohana kūpono ʻia ka ʻike i paʻa iaʻu no ka hoʻonaʻauao kūpono ʻana aku i nā ʻōpio. Makemake i paʻa maikaʻi ko lākou kahua i hiki iā lākou ke komo pū i ke kuleana ʻo ka mālama ʻana i ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi a pēlā pū i ka hoʻoili ʻike ma luna o nā hanauna e hiki mai ana. 

I hope that I am a teacher for the rest of my life. I want my knowledge to be well applied in educating the youth. I want them to have a strong and solid foundation so that they will later be able to fulfill their responsibility of perpetuating the Hawaiian language and are also able to share their knowledge with the upcoming generations.

Why did you choose your major? 

No ka Haʻawina Hawaiʻi, ua ʻike ʻē wau, ʻo ia ana kaʻu mēkia. Ua hoʻoholo ʻia iaʻu ma ke kula kiʻekiʻe. ʻAʻole naʻe wau i lilo he haumāna ma ka mēkia Kālaiʻōlelo a i koʻu makahiki ʻelua ma ke kulanui. Ma koʻu makahiki mua, ua paipai ʻia au e komo ma ka papa LING 102 a ua hoihoi loa! Ma laila wau i ʻike ai i nā ʻano ʻaoʻao like ʻole o ka ʻōlelo. Ma muli o ia hoihoi i komo kūhele ai wau ma ke ʻano he haumāna Kālaiʻōlelo.

For Hawaiian studies, I already knew that that was going to be my major. That is something that I decided in high school. However, I did not become a Linguistics major until my second year. In my first year, I was encouraged to enroll in the LING 102 class and it was so interesting! It was there that I learned about all the different aspects of language. And because I was so interested, I decided to enroll as an official Linguistics major as well. 

Why do you think it’s important to study your major? 

Ua kokoke halapohe ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. A inā nō i pau, me ia nō ka lāhui Hawaiʻi. “ʻO ka ʻōlelo ke kaʻā o ka mauli.” ʻAʻole ka ʻōlelo wale nō ʻo kai aʻo ʻia ke aʻo i ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, ma lalia pū ka moʻomeheu me ke kuanaʻike Hawaiʻi. He koʻikoʻi hoʻi ke komo ma ka Haʻawina Hawaiʻi ia me ke Kālaiʻōlelo i mea e hiki ai ke maopopo iā kākou ke ʻano o ka poʻe ma mua o kākou a pēlā e hōʻoia ai i ka ʻane halapohe hou o kā kākou ʻōlelo aloha. 

The Hawaiian language was nearly extinct. And if it had indeed died, along with it would have been the Hawaiian race. “Language is the fiber that binds us to our cultural identity.” The language is not the only thing you learn when you learn the Hawaiian language, it is there you will also learn the Hawaiian culture and perspective. It is so important to study Hawaiian language and linguistics so that we are able to understand the ways of those before us and through this, we can ensure that our beloved language never becomes endangered again. 

What makes the program unique?

Ma ka papahana ʻo Kahuawaiola e hoʻomākaukau ʻia ai nā kumu ma ke kuanaʻike Hawaiʻi. Ma nā kula kaiapuni a kaiaʻōlelo paha, aʻo ʻia nō nā maʻiʻo maʻamau, ʻo ka makemakika, ka ʻepekema, ka mākau ʻōlelo Pelekānia, ka mōʻaukala, a pēlā wale aku. ʻO ka hana nui naʻe ma kēia papahana, ʻo ia ka hoʻomākaukau ʻana iā mākou no ke aʻo ma ka ʻimi ʻana i ka pili o ka maʻiʻo i kā mākou poʻe haumāna Hawaiʻi. Aʻo ʻia mākou ke ala e hōʻike mau ai i ka haumāna i kona pilina i nā mea āna e aʻo nei ma kona ʻano he kanaka Hawaiʻi. 

In the Kahuawaiola program, teachers are prepared from a Hawaiian perspective. In immersion schools, the basic subjects are taught: math, science, English, history, etc. But the biggest thing about this program is that we are prepared to teach these subjects while also finding the connection of the content to our students. We are taught how to constantly ensure them that what they are learning is connected to them as a Native Hawaiian. 

What would be your personal motto? 

I ʻolāʻolā nō ka huewai i ka piha ʻole. The water gourd gargles when not filled full.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?

He ʻili kuapo ʻeleʻele kēkelē ʻehā koʻu ma ka taekwondo. 

I am a fourth degree black belt in taekwondo. 

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

Inā i hiki ke hele wale e like me koʻu makemake, e hoʻi aku nō wau i koʻu mokupuni ʻo Maui e launa ai me koʻu makuahine a me koʻu pōkiʻi. Ma muli o ka maʻi ahulau, kokoke ka piha o hoʻokahi makahiki i koʻu hoʻi ʻole ʻana i laila. 

If I could be anywhere else right now, I would go home to Maui to see my mom and little brother. Due to the pandemic, I have been unable to go home for almost a year now. 

Jualin Guting

Jualin Guting's photo

Name: Jualin Sable Guting 
Major: Pharmacy
Where I am from: Waipio, O‘ahu
Role at UH Hilo: 2nd Year Grad Student, Executive Chair for the Board of Media Broadcasting
What’s your passion?: 
My passion is being able to give back to my community.

How would you describe your personal journey in life?: 
My personal journey in life has been a rough road, but with every obstacle that comes my way I am able to fight through the hardships. 

What makes the program unique?: 
I am a part of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Program and what makes it unique is that it is the only pharmacy school within the State of Hawai‘i. 

What would you tell someone who is thinking about coming to UH Hilo?: 
If someone from another island is thinking about coming to UH Hilo I would say do because it is a home away from home. Being someone from O‘ahu there was a big difference in the pace of life. Hilo is a laidback city where you can focus more on self care and school. 

What is the most important lessons you’ve learned in life or at UH Hilo?: 
The most important lesson I have learned is that being away at college I had to grow up and do things on my own. Being involved around campus has challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and become a leader to my fellow colleagues.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?: 
The biggest influence in my life is my mom. She has always been by my side and supported me when no did. The lesson that my mom has instilled in me is that I should always put myself first before anyone else.

What are you most proud of?: 
I am most proud of myself and getting to where I am today in pharmacy school because it has always been my dream to pursue this career. I still did what others thought I couldn’t and that makes me happy to say that I did it.

How would you like to be remembered?: 
I would like to be remembered as the one with a kind heart who is willing to help anyone in any situation. Being a student at UH Hilo I want to be remembered as the student who made a difference in many ways possible.

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's photo

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.