The University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu has proven to be one of the most significant stepping stones for two graduating seniors.
LeianaMarie Alejado and Anthony Amos were among more than 370 students who received their college degrees from UH West Oʻahu this spring semester. While Alejado and Amos traveled different paths to graduation, both were similarly led to life-changing self-discovery they say they owe to the university.
“This campus, and Hawaiʻi itself, is filled with a rich culture and many opportunities to push yourself to not just success, but enlightenment,” Amos said. “I discovered who I am and who I want to be during my years here.”
“I believe it is my purpose in life to inspire and educate those around me,” Alejado said. “I would have never come to this conclusion if I went to another institution.”
Alejado, who graduated with a bachelor of arts in humanities with a concentration of Hawaiian Pacific studies, was accepted into UH Mānoa’s educational administration graduate program.
Her greatest post-college goal is to dive further into her senior project which aimed to provide a space for indigenous students on campus to ensure their success and complete their educational journeys through the power of intentional community building.
Rouel Velasco, director of student life at UH West Oʻahu, described Alejado as “a driven student leader” who is passionate about social justice work, specifically focusing on Hawaiian affairs while uplifting others.
“She is studious, committed to a vibrant student experience, and exudes so much aloha in all her interactions with peers, staff and faculty,” Velasco said.
Alejado noted that she owes everything that she is to UH West Oʻahu’s faculty and staff, who not only educated her, but helped raise her.
“Graduating is so important to me because it is as if I am being inducted into a legacy of intelligent, culturally aware, and inspiring people who took me under their wings and showed me the power of being part of a beloved community,” Alejado said.
Amos says ‘Mahalo!’
Amos, who came from Germany, is a self-described “military brat” who embraced the Hawaiian culture and all that UH West Oʻahu has to offer. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, with concentrations in sociology and political science.
He plans to move to Washington D.C., where he hopes to get an internship at the U.S. Capitol and become more involved in political processes.
“Once I have more experience, I will strive to expand upon my political career,” said Amos, “and, as bold as this is, push to become president one day—or at least change how that process works.”
Christy Mello, assistant professor of anthropology, said she is grateful to have had Amos as a student, mentee and research assistant.
“He is a serious scholar, brilliant, a leader, exudes positive energy and will make a difference in this world with his drive and passion for social justice,” Mello said.
What Amos gained was something that he could find only at UH West Oʻahu.
“Mahalo to all those who contributed to my growth and for everyone’s hard work during such trying times,” Amos said. “You all made Hawaiʻi feel like home and provided me with my understanding of my kuleana.”
Go to E Kamakani Hou for more details on the graduates’ journeys and advice to other undergraduates.
—By Zenaida Serrano Arvman