A look into UH Hilo’s Admissions for the Fall 2019 Semester

Associate Editor Clara Scheidle Photographs by Rosannah Gosser

“We look forward to providing support and creating a connection for the start of the school year” Shara Mahoe

Students tying lei with their toes

As school commences once again, new faces are sure to appear in the halls. The University of Hawai’i at Hilo is a popular destination for students not only in America, but for the world- 21 states and 10 countries to be exact, according to UH Hilo Admissions.

First Year Experience is the on-campus organization that is committed to building a foundation for a student’s academic success and socialization at UH Hilo. This fall semester for orientation, FYE made over 500 ti leaf leis for incoming students and their families. “It’s been a tradition for four years now,” says Shara Mahoe, the director of FYE. “For me, I think it's what makes us a unique campus and connects students and their families to this special place we call Hilo.”

All the leis were made possible through donations of ti leaves made by faculty, staff, and students. Over 25 staff members from various departments came to help create the lei, including Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes.

New students, which include freshmen, transfer, and exchange students, had the option to pay $50 to participate in four days of orientation programs, activities, and workshops. The FYE staff and student ambassadors were also present to run these events and help out wherever they could.”

“It’s important for us to share our campus resources and have students meet with their faculty and/or major departments during this week to get connected,” says Mahoe. “We know that once school starts it can be overwhelming and confusing.”

Zachary Street, UH Hilo’s admissions director, says that UH Hilo “expects to welcome 450 new First-Time Freshman from across Hawai'i and around the world, and a diverse group of more than 450 new transfer and exchange students.” Admissions defines “First-Time Freshman” as students who are entering the university directly after graduating from high school. In both cases, he continues, this is a large increase from Fall 2018, and the UHH Admissions team is “excited to welcome this talented and diverse group of students to the UH Hilo /‘ohana.”

There are many things that may have contributed to this year’s increase. Street confirms that outside factors can greatly impact a student’s decision on where they want to go to college. The fall semester of 2018 immediately followed the Kilauea eruptions, which caused some students to cancel their enrollment. According to Street, these cancellations were due to “concerns of the student’s safety, vog, or because they needed to be able to support their families after losing their homes or employment.”

Protests occurring on Maunakea-- and around the globe-- against the building of the TMT, serve as a potential new variable for admission numbers.

Street points out that the situation on Maunakea affects everyone differently, especially in a diverse community. “Some students remain unsure if they should enroll in school due to activity on the mauna,” he says, “while others have decided to enroll with us because of it.” Though the weight of the situation on Maunakea remains in the minds of many students, faculty, and their families, Mahoa relays the importance that at this time, they are focused on creating a great experience for students and their families regardless. “We look forward to providing support and creating a connection for the start of the school year,” she states.