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Kumu Andrew Lai empowers haumāna: “Let Them Lead”

Feb. 7, 2020

“It’s never no. It’s always yes, but how?”

This is the response Andrew Lai KSK’89 often gives his students as the recently created Student Leadership Activities director at KS Kapālama. Now in its second year, the program features a yearlong leadership course that all members of student government take.

One of the program’s central goals is to build students’ leadership skills through the process of planning and executing events, so some of the functions of Student Activities have been incorporated into Student Leadership.

Everything they do is student-led, from weighing in on campus policies, to organizing social functions, to promoting community and civic engagement opportunities. A recent voter drive, for instance, resulted in a group of eight seniors casting their ballots at Honolulu Hale for the first time.

“They definitely have voices, and they’re learning how to find them, and that’s what I enjoy about watching them go through that process,” Lai says of his students. “The biggest life lesson for them is just figuring how to navigate the world of leading their friends while still being their friends.”

"The essence of being an effective leader, that has not changed; how we get there, that’s what’s changed."
KS Kapālama Kumu Andrew Lai

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