U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono visited the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu in November to meet with students, faculty and staff, and learn more about programs offered there to support underrepresented students, including Native Hawaiians.
Hirono began her hour-long visit at the Nāulu Center, where UH West Oʻahu students and graduates shared how they benefited from various federal grant programs such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Early College Program funding through the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) and Title III, including the PIKO (health and wellness facilities and programs that integrate Native Hawaiian values of well-being) and Hoʻopūliko Kumu Hou Educational Pathway projects at UH West Oʻahu.
“I enjoyed the chance to meet with students on the beautiful UH West Oʻahu campus to hear about what they’re learning and how federal grants are helping many of them attend college,” Hirono said in a news release. “Many of these students are the first in their families to attend college, and with support from federal funding, UH West Oʻahu is helping them to expand their horizons and reach their full potential.”
Among the students who met with Hirono was Kyree Follante-Makekau, a freshman majoring in public administration with a concentration in justice administration. Follante-Makekau, who is Native Hawaiian and Asian, shared that federal programs have helped her explore and expand her educational options.
“These programs really helped me…grow, within a span from a senior (in high school) to freshman year at college,” she said.
UH West Oʻahu alumna Hōkū Kwan, who currently serves as the Title III Wailau Ola Pathway project director thanked Hirono for her continued support.
“We are products of the good work that can be done,” Kwan said. “So mahalo nui for supporting our students, staff and faculty here at UH West Oʻahu because without your support, we wouldn‘t be able to provide this quality education for our students.”
Read more in Ka Puna O Kaloʻi.
—By Zenaida Serrano Arvman