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An important mission of the University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine is to nuture and educate physicians of Native Hawaiian ancestry, because their ranks are small compared to the Native Hawaiian population in the state.

From left, Akolea Ioane, Kenneth Ortiz and Sara Kuʻulei Miles

From left, Akolea Ioane, Kenneth Ortiz and Sara Kuʻulei Miles

New Native Hawaiian students graduating from the School of Medicine—Akolea Ioane, Sara Kuʻulei Miles and Kenneth Ortiz—were celebrated at a kīhei ceremony, held in June at the medical school’s Healing Garden, in honor of their journey into medicine.

Like the white coat which physicians wear, the kīhei, a cloth draped across one shoulder, is a symbol of responsibility, virtue, teamwork and dedication. Each kīhei was printed using Native Hawaiian techniques and images which are intended to tell the story of each individual’s voyage to healing.

During the ceremony, each kauka ʻopio (young doctor) was presented their kīhei by Native Hawaiian physicians from the organization ʻAhahui o nā Kauka and the John A. Burns School of Medicine Department of Native Hawaiian Health.

The video, provided by the School of Medicine, was produced by UH medical student journalists Deborah Manog and Amanda Shell.

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