Project receives $1.01 million for Native Hawaiian students in STEM majors

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Dec 14, 2009

Ku`umeaaloha Gomes
Ku`umeaaloha Gomes
The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Kahuewai Ola project recently received a four-year grant of $1.01 million that will allow for tuition support of 45 Native Hawaiian students and the recruitment of ten faculty mentors.
Ku`umeaaloha Gomes, director of Kua`ana Student Services at UH Mānoa will guide the Kahuewai Ola project awarded by the Native Hawaiian Education Act.
Based on the previous success of the initial Kahuewai Ola project (2005-08), student participants identified ongoing financial support and a desire for more effective faculty mentoring as critical to their retention. The grant will allow the next cycle of the Kahuewai Ola project to address these two objectives, and will serve as a key strategy in successfully retaining Native Hawaiian STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) scholars into the next decade.
Native Hawaiian children represent 23 percent in the public school system from K-12. Less than half of these children go on to pursue a four-year degree at UH Mānoa, with fewer entering STEM majors at the graduate level. Native Hawaiian students comprise only 10 percent of the student population at UH Mānoa.
With the lack of Native Hawaiian students in graduate degree programs, there is an even greater disparity of Native Hawaiian instructional faculty, representing only 0.5% in STEM disciplines.  Kahuewai Ola pairs a faculty mentor with three students. Mentors will lead students in completing research projects related to their majors or academic interests. Knowledge shared by mentors will also include perspectives on applying to graduate school and what to expect.
UH Mānoa’s “Second Decade Project” is in the process of identifying Hawai‘i’s higher education and workforce development needs in the next decade with a set of priorities. The plan identifies emerging career opportunities in the state of Hawaii which include four areas, three of which are STEM related: life sciences, biotechnology, information technology and diversified agriculture.