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Daniel Arakawa

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa senior majoring in political science and sociology was named a Truman Scholar—the premier graduate scholarship for aspiring public service leaders in the United States—and is the only recipient from Hawaiʻi this year.

Daniel Arakawa, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama (KS Kapālama) and native of Kāneʻohe, hopes to become an assistant United States attorney and aspires to serve as a federal judge. Arakawa volunteers as a speech and debate coach for his alma mater and found out the news while helping to prepare his KS Kapālama students for a statewide speech and debate tournament.

Check out more stories of our UH spring graduates

“I was ecstatic. It’s truly wonderful. First thing I did was call my parents and tell them,” said Arakawa, who is graduating this spring. “Of the different fellowship/scholarships like Rhodes and Fulbright, Truman is a really special one. I’m really grateful for the opportunity, and this award will definitely open up a lot of doors.”

Truman Scholars demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence. Each Truman Scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government. Arakawa was one of 60 college students from 54 U.S. colleges and universities selected in 2024, out of 709 candidates. Arakawa was assisted by the UH Mānoa Scholarships and Fellowships Office, which endorses students applying for select competitions that require official nomination by the university.

Arakawa served as an intern with then-Lt. Gov. Josh Green in 2022 and became a constituent services specialist for newly elected Gov. Green in January 2023. Through these positions, Arakawa developed a passion for public service and an understanding of the political process by working closely with and supporting underserved communities. He intends to pursue a Juris Doctor focusing on criminal law.

“I’ve always been interested in argumentation and law, and so criminal law was a natural route,” Arakawa said. “As I learned more about the process in the criminal justice system, and the problems and inequities that are present, I became more interested.”

Arakawa was also selected as a student marshal for the College of Social Sciences at the spring 2024 commencement ceremony and recently joined Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest academic honor society in the nation. He credits Department of Sociology Professor David Johnson and Department of Political Science Professor Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller with helping him develop his interest in law and the criminal justice system.

“Daniel Arakawa is the most special student I have encountered in 25 years of teaching at UH,” Johnson said. “Several qualities set him apart, including these: his desire to look carefully at the world and see it for what it is; his passion for asking questions, without fear or favor; and his ability to drain heat and anger from controversial topics and replace them with wonder and curiosity.”

Goldberg-Hiller added, “Daniel is an exceptional student with a strong commitment to public service. We are all very proud of the honor he has achieved with this prestigious scholarship.”

Arakawa is the 22nd awardee from a UH System campus since the program’s inception in 1977 and the first since Jessica Lau earned the award in 2022.

The Department of Political Science and Department of Sociology are housed in UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences. The Scholarships and Fellowships Office is administered by the University Honors Program, under the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Excellence.

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