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students at the beach holding a sign
SOEST students and friends at the Makapuʻu Beach clean-up event.

A group of students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and friends disposed of more than 75 pounds of trash and debris at Makapuʻu Beach during a beach cleanup event. One of the first in-person community-building events since the pandemic started two years ago, students enjoyed fellowship and caring for one of Oʻahu’s beautiful beaches.

“At the SOEST Club meetings, students discussed activities they were interested in doing to give back and help the community,” said Maya Singh, an undergraduate student in the Global Environmental Science program at SOEST. “Many of us were interested in doing a beach cleanup because it’s such a great way to respect the land and clean up one of the most beautiful beaches here on the island.”

Singh and fellow students Isabella Ternes and Connor Shea, who is the SOEST Club advisor and an oceanography graduate student, teamed up to organize the event.

people cleaning beach

About 30 participants, mainly SOEST undergraduates and their friends came to help and clean up the beach. UH’s fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi also joined with about 15 members attending.

As with many activities during the pandemic, SOEST Club social and service events had been on pause. This was the first in-person service event for the group since early 2020.

“It was so great to see the enthusiasm that so many people brought to the event,” said Shea. “I think that everyone was just really excited to come out and participate in something when there have been so few opportunities to come together as a community in the past couple of years.”

“We thought that this would be a great way to connect many SOEST students who have similar interests to get to know new people while doing something good for the environment,” said Singh. “This event was a huge success and it felt really good knowing that we made a small change to this beautiful beach. Although it was great that we were able to get out there and help, there is still so much that can be done and cleaned up. This will definitely not be SOEST’s last beach cleanup!”

This beach cleanup is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Building a Sustainable and Resilient Campus Environment: Within the Global Sustainability and Climate Resilience Movement (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

–By Marcie Grabowski

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