UH Hilo administration of justice major Kari Sochor interns at Hawaiʻi State Legislature

The internship gives student Kari Sochor the opportunity to do research on legislation and policy issues, handle constituent affairs, and get involved with legislative matters.

Kari Sochor with Hawaiʻi state flag flying in background.
Kari Sochor at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol Building in Honolulu. (Courtesy photo)

By Nāpua Iolana Bicoy

A student majoring in administration of justice at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is interning at the Hawaiʻi State Legislature this semester.

The legislative internship gives UH Hilo student Kari Sochor the opportunity to do research on legislation and policy issues, handle constituent affairs, and get involved with a wide variety of legislative matters.

The internship, at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol office of Rep. Greggor Ilagan (District 4, Puna, Hawaiʻi Island), earns Sochor up to 15 upper division credit hours and a $3,000 stipend from the UH Hilo Office of the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and the Office of the Dean at the College of Arts and Sciences.

“I find it as a tremendous opportunity to grow and learn,” says Sochor. “It is possible to find yourself in unexpected places.”

Sochor is a senior and looks forward to graduating this semester. She was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and moved to Hawaiʻi Island when she was 13 years old.

Sochor says it brings her joy to work for Vice Speaker Ilagan’s office because he’s the district representative for Puna, a place special to her. Working with Ilagan makes her feel valued and that her work contributes directly to the people of the community.

“I am honored to have this experience, and I won’t be sad when it’s over but rather happy that I got the opportunity,” she says. Internships can be daunting, she adds, but “if you are not willing to lose sight of the shore, you won’t ever discover new oceans.”

County of Hawaiʻi seal. State of Hawaiʻi. Images of volcano, mountains, ocean, sun. Red, yellow and black.
Kari Sochor interned last year for Hawaiʻi County Councilmember Jennifer Kagiwada.

Sochor interned last year in Hawaiʻi County Councilmember Jennifer Kagiwadaʻs office. When she applied for that position, she thought she wouldn’t be considered for it. But when she was, she realized that “you have to be willing to take chances and lost sight of what you know so you can grow.”

When the opportunity to apply for the state legislature internship came around, Sochor took it.

“I am grateful for the challenges and opportunities that life throws at me, and I hope many others will be willing to take chances, apply for internships, and do things on a whim to keep life interesting,” she says.

The internship is full-time at Ilagan’s offices at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol which required her to relocate to Oʻahu to work in the office. Sochor plans to return to Hawaiʻi Island in May after the current legislative session ends.

State of Hawaii seal, 1959. Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono, Figures of Kamehameha, state flag, flora. Browns, greens, black.
Kari Sochor is interning for Hawaiʻi State Rep. Greggor Ilagan this semester.

In her first few weeks of the internship, Sochor needed to learn how to read bills, understand what committees the bills are being assigned to in order to make tracking the bills introduced by Ilagan easier. She is learning about how bills are created, the process required when going through hearings, and how it becomes a law.

The main responsibilities she has are checking voicemails, checking hearing agendas for the committees Ilagan serves on, ensuring all hearing agendas are accessible to him when needed, watching committee hearings to notify Ilagan when decision making is occurring so that he can cast his vote, answering phone calls, taking messages, calling constituents, and scheduling meetings.

On her home island, Sochor is an active member of the Mom and Keiki Leadership group at Pāhoa Community Center. After graduating from UH Hilo, she plans on getting a job on the island and to run for a position on the County Council to represent her district. She also hopes to build a cultural center in Northern Arizona dedicated to the preservation of Indigenous cultures found throughout the Americas and Oceania.

Story by Nāpua Iolana Bicoy, who is majoring in Hawaiian studies at UH Hilo.

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