Whitworth University sophomore Jaylen Gonzales made his way to Spokane, Wash., on a full academic scholarship as part of the partnership between the university, KS and the Hawai‘i State Department of Education. Gonzales is a linebacker on the Pirates football team, which recently finished the regular season 9-0, and will take part in the NCAA Division III playoffs for just the fourth time in school history.
Kamehameha Schools has partnered with the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and Whitworth University to create a Wai‘anae-to-Whitworth ‘Auwai (Pipeline) that fully funds eight academic scholarships for Native Hawaiian haumāna (students) from Wai‘anae and Nānākuli to attend the university in Spokane, Wash.
The primary goal of the partnership is to establish a reciprocal relationship with the reputable university that has demonstrated success producing outstanding educators and working with native populations by fostering a community in which the learning, development and growth of indigenous students is encouraged and fostered.
A secondary goal of the partnership is to diversify the community’s knowledge base, talent pool and networking connections; as students complete their college experience, they will look forward to returning to Hawai‘i and make a meaningful difference in their communities.
In addition to funding 16 scholarships thus far, the partnership also covers students’ costs associated with housing, dining, books, miscellaneous fees and two trips home annually (typically taken for summer and winter breaks) to keep the connection with Hawai‘i intact. “Individualized Education Plans” are created for each student that factor in both academic and personal needs, including ‘ohana obligations in Hawai‘i.
“These students are growing into individuals that God is calling them to be, and we are absolutely committed to the students’ success as we celebrate what they bring to our university,” said Whitworth University President Beck A. Taylor. “As we continue to learn together, my hope is that 15 years from now, we can see the positive impacts made on the Wai‘anae Coast community. Whitworth needs these students – they bring their own perspectives, cultural awareness and that’s the ‘fuel’ that makes Whitworth go. We’re honored and privileged to have walked so many miles together, and we continue to look ahead to the future as these students continue on to uplift their communities.”
In 2018-19, the Whitworth University population features 89 students from Hawai‘i – nearly three times the amount from the Islands attending the school in 2009 – including 15 from Wai‘anae and five from Nānākuli, and seven haumāna from the three KS campuses.
“We’re working to instill a sense of hope and possibility along the Wai‘anae Coast by clearing a pathway for our students to attain a college education,” said KS Wai‘anae Coast Regional Director Kalei Kailihiwa. “We recognize that these students have such high potential coupled with a need for specific supports, so we have worked with Whitworth University and the Department of Education to develop a system of scaffolds to ensure students make it through the collegiate process successfully. When they graduate, our hope is that these young men and women will return home to their communities to pursue their passions as leaders in the forms of teachers, coaches, entrepreneurs and professionals.”