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KS Hawaii senior Kaeo Batacan, KS Maui senior Kaui Lonzaga and KS Kapālama senior Jordan Bayudan and their classmates share their plans for the future.

Kamehameha seniors talk about their plans following graduation

May. 24, 2016

  • AUTHOR
  • Shaundor Chillingworth

Graduation is just a few days away. For the nearly 700 Kamehameha Schools seniors about to don their kīhei and harvest the work they’ve put in over the last four years, it’s an exciting, albeit nerve-racking time.

What’s college going to be like? Do I really want to major in that? Am I going to make new friends? What’s it going to be like living away from home?

Those are just a few of the questions that most of these students will be asking themselves in the next few months. But as this milestone moment is about to be reached, 16 seniors from across KS’ three campuses answered a few questions about their future and how KS helped to prepare them for this moment.

KS Maui

Kiana Kanoa’s experience as an intern for Honolulu marketing agency, Wind on Water Communications, helped influence not just what she would pursue, but where as well. For her, marketing is the perfect blend of art and business. After that experience, she decided to follow in the footsteps of her internship mentor, Anna Covert, and head to Covert’s alma mater, Bentley University. She’ll make the move from Kīhei to just outside of Boston to attend one of the nation’s top colleges for her chosen field.   

For Keaghan Gomes from Pukalani, rodeo has been his way of life. He was born into rodeo. So next year, he’ll follow that to the University of North Platte, where he’s going to pursue a career on the pro bull riding circuit while equipping himself for the future with degrees in agricultural business and farmer ranch management. Beyond bull riding, Gomes has a passion to ranch and plans to prepare himself for the kuleana of managing his family’s ranch in Montana. He credits his counselors, especially Lisa Correa, in matching him with his college of choice and helping him discover an interest in agribusiness.

Kaui Lonzaga credits her grandma’s desire for all of her grandchildren to pursue a medical degree as her direction for what to pursue next. But an internship at a pharmacy ultimately is what validated her choice in pursuing a career as a pharmacist. A choice between the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo or Oregon State University is what lies next for the Pāʻia girl. But after her KS Maui experience, she feels well prepared for the future.

In choosing to pursue something he can relate to, Maui football standout Kamuela Kaniaupio will pursue a degree in either athletic training or radiology at Western Oregon University. As an athlete, the Kīhei boy found he could really relate to those fields. He acknowledges the impact his teachers have had on helping him take responsibility for his work and thinks that will really help him as he advances to the next level.

Music has always been a part of Micah Sagabaen’s life. He’s been playing music since he was three years old. So when thinking of a career, music was what felt like a natural fit. The multi-instrument talent will transition from Wailuku to Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, where he can continue to follow not only his passion for music, but his Christian faith. He plans to solidify a foundation in worship as well at Oral Roberts and hopes to play professionally for Christian musicians in the future. He credits his music teachers, especially kumu Dale Nitta, for their advice and encouragement in giving him the confidence to chase his dreams.

KS Kapālama

Both Momi Tolentino from Kaʻū, Hawaiʻi and Kaeo Kruse from Kalaheo, Kauaʻi credit the boarding program for preparing them for what’s ahead. Both students are East Coast bound as Tolentino heads to Dartmouth and Kruse to Harvard. Both are also looking to give back through the medical profession in the future, Tolentino as a neonatologist and Kruse in the area of sports medicine.

A cross country and track phenom, Kruse will continue his athletic career with the Crimson. Harvard offered the right balance of academic support and athletics. One day, he hopes to be working at the Olympic Training center or possibly training there himself, continuing his record-breaking running career.

While she originally looked into pursing political science and the law, Tolentino identified a need for more doctors here in Hawaiʻi and hopes to one day return home where she can continue to support the Native Hawaiian community. Her strong connection to her culture meshed well with the atmosphere at Dartmouth that embraces and supports indigenous cultures. She thanks counselor Steve Morales for helping her stay on top of her deadlines.

Jordan Bayudan is also pursuing a medical career in nursing. But an experience with when he was younger, coupled with an early acceptance to the nursing program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, helped to shape the path he would take next. The Ewa Beach product also credits his experiences being involved as both an athlete and on a number of student leadership clubs and teams for preparing him for this next step. 

Chris-Jordon Ulufale’s West Side roots in Nānākuli run deep. While he’s bound for Western New Mexico, he hopes to one day return home to be a teacher and coach on the Waiʻanae Coast where he grew up. Planning to major in education, while still pursuing his professional football dreams while on scholarship and playing for Rawhide. He has a strong desire to defy sterotypes and positively affect his community to show that kids from the 96792 can give back and do big things, crediting his mom as his inspiration.

After exploring different paths on career day, Taj-Destiny Vierra knew she had found what she wanted to be one day…a firefighter. Wanting to save lives and enjoying the physical aspect of the job, she couldn’t see herself doing anything else. So in the fall, she will travel from Waiʻanae to attend Southwestern Oregon Community College, majoring in fire science, with one day hopes of becoming a federal firefighter. Ultimately, she hopes in the future that she can support her family and have just enough to be happy.  

For all five KSK seniors, the right financial situation for college was their primary concern in where they chose to attend school next year, all finding the right fit to ease the burden and prepare them for the future they are looking to pursue.

KS Hawaiʻi

Kaluhi Kaʻapana knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up. If her senior project is any indication, the future is bright for the aspiring Hawaiian immersion teacher. The emerging leader has collected both memories and valuable experience representing her school at a variety of campus events over the last four years. But this Hilo girl is headed to Mānoa to double major in both education and Hawaiian language.  She chose UH Mānoa as an opportunity to have some independence, but also still be home.

Watching CSI at home in Waiākea Uka inspired senior Ian Sanborn’s interest into forensic science. The eagle scout and recent inductee into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame sees himself using his skills learned as a forensic technician to help solve crimes in the future. He credits the resources and counselor Jan Ching for encouraging him to participate in College Horizions, which is where the 13-year KS Hawaiʻi student found his match in Colorado College.

Makena Wagner has always been competitive with herself academically. At Smith College, she will continue to challenge herself—making her own major—blending engineering and environmental science to prepare for a career in environmental engineering. While she didn’t originally consider attending an all-girls school, after being matched through her College Horizons experience, talking with the softball coach and meeting other students, she found the right fit. She’ll make the move from Hilo to Massachusetts, but ultimately hopes to return home to help Hawaiʻi advance on its own sustainability goals.

Football standout Kaeo Batacan will look to continue his athletic career when he travels to Pacific University in the fall. The running back decided early on that Oregon is the place he wants to be, partly because it reminds him of home, the other part because it is home to the headquarters for one of his favorite athletic wear companies, Nike. Batacan will major in business with hopes of one day working for the company. He feels making the transition to Pacific from Honokaʻa will be easier because of the number of KS Hawaiʻi alumni currently attending the university coupled with the consistency of having a small, private school feel. He also credits the Business academy for preparing him well for what’s ahead.

Senior class president Zoe Azevedo had to grow up quick when she was younger. When her tūtū had a fall when she was in eighth grade, the Hilo girl became a primary caregiver for her grandma. But the experience opened her eyes and set her on the path she is looking to follow one day. She’ll move from Hilo to Linfield College in Oregon in the fall to major in nursing. Her senior project with the Life Care Center, planning activities with her classmates for the elderly residents there, deepened her interest for specializing in geriatric nursing. She hopes to return home and work at North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital in Waimea.

Yukio Ishii won’t be too far from home in Mountain View when he attends the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo in the fall. The aspiring marine biologist planned well for the future and completed his due diligence applying for and receiving a number of scholarships that should give him peace of mind. In addition to being able to attend college knowing that he won’t be financially burdened in the future, the Dorrance Scholarship recipient will be able to participate in some incredible experiences around the globe as he is equipped to be able to serve his community well in the future.

Hoʻomaikaʻi i ka papa 2016! (Congrats to the class of 2016!) Watch the videos below to hear from these students in their own words.

This story is part of “I Mua Kamehameha,” an ongoing effort to celebrate the excellence of KS campus and community education programs. Inspirational stories will be shared throughout the year about KS servant leaders who are improving the lives of KS haumāna and contributing to a thriving Lāhui. 



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Kawaiaha‘o Plaza

567 South King St
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 523-6200

KS Hawai‘i

16-716 Volcano Rd
Kea‘au, HI 96749
(808) 982-0000

KS Kapālama

1887 Makuakāne St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 842-8211

KS Maui

275 ‘A‘apueo Pkwy
Pukalani, HI 96768
(808) 572-3100