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The 2024 Social Spark cohort will meet weekly for the next ten weeks to learn about digital media, social media management and entrepreneurship.

Social Spark program inspires Kapālama haumāna to be pono content creators

Feb. 26, 2024

The digital tides are turning as a new wave of ʻōiwi digital creators emerge! On February 14, an eager cohort of KS Kapālama haumāna was inducted into Social Spark, a fellowship program bridging students to KS’ commercial real estate properties on ʻĀina Pauahi. This is the second round of the program, and over the next ten weeks, these rising stars will learn more about social media, digital content development and entrepreneurship from some of the most accomplished creators and influencers in Hawaiʻi. They are tasked with producing content that creatively promotes community gathering places on ‘Āina Pauahi to younger audiences.

Aron Dote and Mae Nishimura from KS’ Strategic Communications team served as both mentors and clients, providing the participants with information about their assignments and challenging them to think outside the box.

“We approach the stewardship of ‘āina and our commercial real estate portfolio differently than any other landowner because we're here to build community,” Dote said. “It’s about having pride and kuleana of our centers and showing how it benefits the community.”

Dote also urged the fellows to consider being pono content creators. According to Forbes, Americans spend 5% of their life on social media platforms. In the era of paid influencers and everchanging TikTok trends, he encouraged the fellows to use their platforms responsibly to create meaningful content.

“What you guys do here on campus and in this program is about building character. When you get into the real world, especially on social media, that's where your character comes in,” Dote said.

The all-wahine class went through a thoughtful application process to be selected. Most of them are seniors who heard about the program through their kumu and classmates. With deep interests in media and marketing, most are already contributors to Puka Mai Ka Lā, an Instagram account for the campus’ news broadcast course. Some fuse their Warrior pride and multimedia knowledge on the KSK Sports Media Club Instagram account.

Now, through Social Spark, the fellows can refine their skills and expand their capacity under the guidance of industry experts like Frolic Hawaii’s dining editor Thomas Obungan and local filmmaker Valen Ahlo. The excitement was palpable as they look forward to learning video and photo production, captioning and even mental health awareness in the digital realm.

Mattea Skeen KSK’24 loves to pick up her camera because photography is what she calls her “ultimate passion.” She sees this program as a stepping stone towards her dream job as a social media manager for the National Football League.

“I am most excited to learn more about the promotion side of things and how to do that more creatively,” Skeen said.

Her enthusiasm resonates with partner Chyla Tilton KSK’24, who plans to pursue a marketing degree in her post-graduate studies. Having the opportunity to push herself creatively through this program thrills her.

“Taking people's ideas and transforming them into something that everyone enjoys is what I love,” Tilton said. “Here I will get to see an internal business way of doing that.”

The Social Spark fellowship, which ends on April 17, is not merely a learning experience but a transformative journey that symbolizes the shifting landscape of digital media in Hawaiʻi. As these young women dive into the program, they are not just gaining skills; they are becoming pioneers of positive, authentic storytelling.

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