While working in multiple wetland taro fields on Oʻahu, McKenzie Rose Kealiʻi Hulu Hulu Tynanes learned the concept of “ea” as both life and sovereignty, as well as the value of practicing immersive community engagement. These opportunities were made possible by the Mālama I Na Ahupuaʻa service-learning program, and Nā Koʻokoʻo, a Native Hawaiian leadership program, both housed in University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences. Tynanes, a proud Native Hawaiian, said these programs ignited her interest and passion for her heritage.
The 22-year-old Makakilo-Kapolei resident is the 2022 College of Social Sciences Outstanding Graduating Senior, who was selected based on the college’s core values of scholarship, leadership and service. Tynanes graduated in spring 2022, double majoring in political science and ethnic studies, with a 3.83 grade point average. She is also well on her way to earning a master’s degree in political science through the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Pathway, which is designed for highly-motivated students seeking to complete a master’s at the lower-cost undergraduate tuition rate.
“Earning a master’s degree, and learning from professors who can teach within a grounded Hawaiʻi context, will give me a better understanding of politics at a local level,” Tynanes said.
In addition to her fieldwork, Tynanes was a student intern on the public policy team of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in her senior year, where she researched local and global land issues, and created a land acknowledgement template.
Making a difference
Outside of the academic realm, she served three years as a resident assistant at Student Housing Services, where she received three awards: for demonstrating aloha, excelling in her resident adviser duties and responsibilities, and for “making a difference in the lives of fellow staff and residents.”
Tynanes has served as one of the leaders of the 2021–22 College of Social Sciences Ambassadors, who worked directly with the College of Social Sciences Dean Denise Eby Konan and leadership teams to support the college and its initiatives. For example, in April, she was a greeter at the Mānoa Experience open house, which drew more than 3,000 registered attendees who wanted to learn more about the campus. She has also served as a host for visiting students from Japan-based universities including Meiji Gakuin, Tohoku, Konan and Kagoshima.
Achieving her dream
Now that Tynanes is graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she is laser-focused on earning her master’s degree so she can follow her dream: to work in geospatial intelligence, a field that her double majors have prepared her for, she believes.
“I am so grateful for everything that CSS (College of Social Sciences) has given me, and will continue to give me in graduate school,” Tynanes said. “I’ve learned that luck comes from hard work. Always do your best, because tomorrow isn’t promised.”
Tynanes’ journey is an example of UH Mānoa’s goals of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF) and Becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning (PDF), three of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.