When Kanoelani Steward attended Lahaina Intermediate School, you weren’t likely to hear students speaking the Hawaiian language around campus. Now, as a teacher at Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Lahaina at Lahaina Intermediate, she’s proud to teach ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi on the campus she once attended.

“It’s super important because it’s a part of who we are as a people,” she says. “If we don’t have our language, we don’t have the stories that come from our people; we don’t have the stories of this place that we come from.”

Kanoelani Steward

Steward discovered an interest in STEM and Hawaiian culture during her time at Kapiʻolani Community College. After earning her liberal arts degree from Kapiʻolani CC, she moved to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, where she earned a BS in marine science and a BA in Hawaiian studies. She’s now pursuing a master’s degree in Hawaiian language and literature from UH Hilo, via live streaming technology.

“Find a hui,” she advises students. “When you have a hui and you work together, you’re able to bounce ideas off of each other; you’re able to study together. This is what’s really going to take you to wherever you want to go.”

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