UH Hilo English major Kiaria Zoi Nakamura receives 2019 Matthew Therrien Award

Kiaria Zoi Nakamura enjoys both creative and academic writing. She also is an accomplished dancer: “I wouldn’t be the writer that I am without dance…” 

A selfie of Kiaria Zoi Nakamura
Kiaria Zoi Nakamura

Kiaria Zoi Nakamura is the 2019 recipient of the Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award, a $500 scholarship awarded to an outstanding English major at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Nakamura, a 2017 graduate of Waiakea High School, is pursuing a bachelor of arts in English with a minor in performing arts and a certificate in educational studies. Her educational endeavors have been made possible through many scholarship awards, including the prestigious UH Board of Regents Presidential Scholarship and others from the East Hawai‘i Hiroshima Kenjin Kai, Kiwanis Cali-Nev-Ha Foundation, Takitani Foundation, Big Island Federal Credit Union, Hui Makaala, and Zonta Club of Hilo.

After graduation Nakamura plans to attend graduate school for teaching as well as dance. She hopes to eventually become an English college professor and open up her own dance studio. She says her interests in both English and performing arts “enable a sense of creativity that could have been lost if not for the freedom and innovation that the two provide. I wouldn’t be the writer that I am without dance, just as I wouldn’t be the dancer that I am without writing. Both bring out a level of diligence and imagination that make me a better student, choreographer, and teacher.”

Nakamura maintains a 4.0 grade point average and enjoys both creative and academic writing. Her favorite part about being an English major is the writing intensive courses.

Nakamura was awarded second place in the 2016 Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation “Inspired in Hawai‘i” essay contest. She will present her paper, “Children’s Literature with a Gothic Twist: A Study on Neil Gaiman’s Contributions to Children’s and Gothic Literature,” at the 2019 UH Hilo Humanities International Conference in April.

Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award

Matthew Therrien playing ukulele.
Matthew Therrien

Matthew S. Therrien was an aspiring English major at UH Hilo at the time of his tragic death in a car accident on April 6, 2014. He was a gifted poet and writer with a dream of becoming an English professor. The Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award was initiated by a generous donation made by Stephen and Gloria Gainsley, longtime friends of the Therrien family. The $500 annual award recognizes an outstanding UH Hilo student majoring in English.

The recipient of the Matthew S. Therrien Memorial Award must be an English major and must have demonstrated academic merit with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The awardee must also have demonstrated excellence in writing, preferably through published work.

Nakamura is the fifth recipient of the award.

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UH Hilo English major Savannah Directo receives the 2018 Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award