University of Hawaii System newsletter

Native Hawaiian STEM Majors Receive Support

Posted on | January 8, 2010 | Comments Off on Native Hawaiian STEM Majors Receive Support

Mānoa’s Kahuewai Ola project received a four-year grant of $1.01 million that will allow for tuition support of 45 Native Hawaiian students and the recruitment of 10 faculty mentors. Kuʻumeaaloha Gomes, director of Kuaʻana Student Services 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 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 Mānoa, with fewer entering STEM majors at the graduate level. Native Hawaiian students comprise only 10 percent of the student population at Manoa.

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 percent 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.

Read the news release.