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The Ānuenue Connection Program is looking for alumni, faculty and staff volunteers to serve as points of contact and an informal support network for incoming students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Entering its sixth year, the Ānuenue Connection Program, formerly known as the Hānai Host Program, aims to increase the number of returning students by fostering feelings of support and connection to the university ʻohana (family).

The first few weeks or months can be instrumental in retaining students for their entire collegiate education. Since fall 2015, approximately 19-23% of first-time, full-time freshmen do not return for their second year at UH Mānoa, according to data from the Mānoa Institutional Research Office (PDF).

The program is geared toward improving the experiences of first-year students, regardless of major, and designed to support students who are from out-of-state and far from home; from the neighbor islands who may not be able to travel home easily; and those from Oʻahu who may find living at UH Mānoa to be a departure from their home environment.


For alumni, it is an opportunity to give back to their alma mater. In 2021, more than 125 alumni and student pairings were made.

“It is great to see the growth in a student during their pivotal first year, connect with them on levels that would not usually be available, and connect with other mentors and hear of their own experiences with the campus,” said Derek Furukawa, a former Ānuenue Connection mentor. “It’s not just a great program, it’s a great community.”

Mentors and students are encouraged to meet at least once a month so students can seek advice, counseling or just have a connection with someone familiar with UH Mānoa and know what the island has to offer.

“Nothing is more simultaneously scary and exciting than moving 2,676 miles away from your hometown to start a new life at university,” said Anjali Skilton, a former Ānuenue Connection mentee. “In the summer before my freshman year, I got paired with my mentor. I remember meeting her for the first time. She was so sweet, welcoming, and charismatic—she truly made me feel at home. After that day, we would get together once a month to grab lunch or catch up. I didn’t see her as just a mentor through these meetings, but I saw her as family.”

Several events and outings are coordinated by the Ānuenue Connection Program to bring student participants and volunteers together. Events will be posted on the program’s Instagram page and website.

Each student participant and alumni/faculty/staff mentor team will determine the appropriate time commitment that works for them throughout the program.

UH Mānoa alumni, faculty or staff members willing to serve as a mentor for one or more students, should sign up by Monday, August 8, at 4 p.m.

Learn more at the Ānuenue Connection Program.

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