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headshot of Molly Miyamoto

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa spring 2020 Hawaiian language graduate was one of four honors students nationwide recognized as 2020 Portz Scholars. Selected by the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), Molly Keʻalohi Miyamoto is the fourth recipient from UH Mānoa in the last five years.

Miyamoto will present her UH Mānoa Honors Program thesis, “No Ke Kālaiwaiwai: The Elements of 19th Century Hawaiian Economics,” at the 2020 NCHC conference this fall. Miyamoto’s thesis examines the unique nature of the ancient Hawaiian subsistence economy and the early economic development in the post-contact Hawaiian Kingdom under the rule of Kamehameha I until the Great Māhele.

It focuses on a little-known period of the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom and makes extensive use of primary sources in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian) and English. Her thesis was originally written in Hawaiian then translated into English.

“I’m honored to receive this distinction and represent ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and Native Hawaiian research,” Miyamoto said. “I’m extremely grateful for the guidance and support throughout this project from my mentor, Lalepa Koga; my committee member, Kahikina de Silva; Honors Program Director Vernadette Gonzalez; and the entire Honors Program.”

Miyamoto added, “I couldn’t have done it without the assistance of Keoni Lee, CEO of Hawaiʻi Investment Ready; ʻIlima Long, Eia Mānoa faculty specialist; and Native Hawaiian Student Services, who helped me take the first steps in this project and have continued to support me and my work.”

About Miyamoto

Miyamoto graduated in spring 2020 with a BA in Hawaiian with honors and a BBA in management. She works as a community curator and bookkeeper at Waiwai Collective, a co-creative resiliency hub for culture, community and commerce. Miyamoto plans on returning in the future to pursue an MBA.

Originally from the Seattle area, she now calls Kahaluʻu home on the windward side of Oʻahu. She is the daughter of UH Mānoa engineering alumni and a proud descendant of the Punihaole ʻohana from North Kona, Hawaiʻi.

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