Humans of UH Hilo

News writer: Heidi Featherstone

Photos by: The Humans.

One of the greatest things about UH Hilo is the fact that we are being educated in the middle of a breathtaking oasis that people from all over the world long to visit. Because of this, our campus hosts an incredibly diverse student body. Virtually any class you walk into here will have students from across the U.S., and even some from places as far-flung as Hungary or Vanuatu. This affords us a great opportunity to meet people who come from backgrounds different from our own - people who have and tell stories different from what we might have ever heard before. Humans of UH Hilo is just another opportunity to get to know them a little bit more. Here are your Humans of UH Hilo:


Kad Rey of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

You’re enjoying your day and then suddenly a person, an object, or an action triggers you. That fight or flight response that is ingrained in instincts awakens. You tense up. You take quiet shallow breaths. You scan the perimeter to make sure you’re safe. All the while you put this facade that nothing has changed. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is wrong. The constant lies you tell yourself just to make it through this moment. When you think it is over, your mind releases the floodgates of memories and it leaves you helpless.
Maybe what I’ve said was an overstatement. Perhaps it did not capture the essence of a panic attack or its truest form, fear. Regardless, what happens next? That is a difficult question. How do you respond to such an emotional experience? You respond with love.
Dear reader, you must be thinking, that is the most cliché answer to give. However, there is no other answer I can give than to counter an emotion with another emotion. I’m not saying to love your fears. What I’m trying to say is to find someone who loves you and will help you overcome this fear. Hopefully, it would not leave you so helpless.

-- Kad Rey of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands


James McElvaney of Volcano, Hawai'i

Globe trotting stops for a spell sometimes, and getting a degree while you’re merrily marooned on an island like Hawai‘i seemed like a fine idea. Now that I’ll be graduating with a degree in English and my TESOL certification, it may be time to fire up the balloon and get back to winging around the world.

-- James McElvaney of Volcano, Hawaiʻi

-- Rhealiza Pira of Waikoloa, Hawaiʻi

It wasn’t easy. It was never easy. It wasn’t easy coming into this world weak. It wasn’t easy coming into this world fragile. It wasn’t easy being constantly put down. While my doctors informed my parents I’d be stuck at the bottom, with disabilities I don’t have, I set to work to prove them wrong. While others told me I wouldn’t amount to anything; I told myself I could do anything I had set my mind to. While I missed school due to medical complications, I still asked my mother to get the school work I needed and completed them in my hospital bed. Doctors doubted me, family members pitied me, and peers would bully me. People doubt the little man who later on end up being one of the most successful in life. I’ve accomplished so much in the short amount of time I have lived and I can proudly tell the ones who have doubted me that I am where they never expected me to be. And this is only the beginning. I started as a broken little girl in a hospital bed, who lost her twin sister a month after their birth. Then later struggled with English as a second language. I went from ESL and after school help to Honors, AP and advancement programs. I became apart of the Junior and Senior Army ROTC programs and is eligible to be an Army Officer. Now? Now I’m a young strong filipina woman that is double majoring in English and Performing Arts. I have composed songs, written plays, began learning all that I need to know to start working my way up. Working my way up to become anything I want to be. An artist, a writer, a teacher, a leader. A Dreamer.

-- Rhealiza Pira of Waikoloa, Hawaiʻi