Mu Ľo Scholarship recipient excels in early learning degree program  

May. 9, 2024

Ciara “Yoko” Lindsey took a big leap of faith when she applied for and was awarded a Muʻo early education scholarship in 2023, the inaugural year of the program. In a partnership between Kamehameha Schools Kaiāulu and Chaminade University of Honolulu, Lindsey was one of 50 recipients to earn a full-tuition scholarship to Chaminade’s online Bachelor of Education program which prioritizes early education and allowing Hawaiʻi students to learn and grow in the communities where they live.  

The scholarship program was a perfect fit for Lindsey, even though she was incredibly nervous about returning to college. As a mother of four and now recent grandmother of two, the preschool kumu had long ago set aside college aspirations to support and raise her ʻohana in Waimea on Hawaiʻi Island. The Muʻo scholarship and college program ticked all the boxes for Lindsey, including it being online and asynchronous. 

“The big eye opener for this particular scholarship is that it’s remote. I can still keep my full-time job which means maintaining an income. The learning is self-paced. I’m not rushing home to log on to a virtual class. I have the freedom of it being at my own pace,” Lindsey said. 

Another game changer is that the scholarship fully covers Lindsey’s tuition. 

“Financially, there is no way that I can go back to school on my teaching salary and my husband's teaching salary. With a mortgage and all the other bills there is no way that this can happen. So when that opportunity came, I said ‘yes, sign me up.’” 

In addition to classes being online, Muʻo scholarship recipients have a dedicated success coach/mentor who helps students with challenges great and small. That person just so happens to be a KS Hawai’i alum, Pualei Borge KSH’07. She says Yoko has been an outstanding mentee. 

Pualei Borge KSH'07 is Chaminade University's Muʻo Scholarship flex navigator.

“She was the very first student to reach out to me for a meeting before the school year even began. She had all her questions lined up on what it would take to succeed. So, I knew she would be somebody who was going to emerge as a front runner in the scholarship program, just from her tenacity and her persistence,” said Pualei Borge, Muʻo Scholarship flex navigator at Chaminade University of Honolulu. 

Lindsey is grateful for Borge’s kōkua and is thankful for ʻohana who has helped provide time and space for her studies. The support is already paying off. Lindsey earned straight A’s in her first semester and is on a three-year track to earn her bachelor’s degree. 
 
“Maybe if I didn't get this degree, maybe we would have to look at moving away because it’s getting more expensive. I can give back to my community, but I can also stay here because now my pay is going to be higher,” Lindsey said. 
 
And Borge, a mom of kamaliʻi herself, is also grateful to see this boost in the pipeline of local early learning kumu. 
 
“I feel so blessed that these students will be able to stay in Hawaiʻi because it’s important to feed into our own selves with our own people who have been educated from within Hawaiʻi to teach in Hawaiʻi.” 
 
Lindsey is currently a preschool kumu at the Hawaiian-focused Mālamapōkiʻi Family-Based Early Childhood Education Program. The kula is part of the KS-supported Kanu o ka ʻĀina Learning ʻOhana. Some kamaliʻi in Lindsey’s class are also supported through the Pauahi Keiki Scholars program.  
 
Her studies at Chaminade have stoked her passion for helping haumāna with special needs. And it’s also stoked her passion for lifelong learning. Besides her full class load at Chaminade, she’s signed up for ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi classes and is already thinking about pursuing her master’s degree. She credits the Muʻo Scholarship for opening up a new world of higher education possibilities.  
 
“I’m so grateful for the vision Chaminade and Kamehameha Schools had. They identified a need and took action to address it. Mahalo nui loa for putting this Muʻo scholarship program into motion. I know it is making a difference in me and I will be a better kumu for the keiki in my community,” Lindsey said. 
 
Borge added: “I think it is just a testament to how invested they are in seeing these students through to the end. To have that forethought to build in systems of support.” 
 
The effort to develop early learning kumu is far from over. In fact, applications are being accepted now for the second cohort of scholarships for the Fall 2024 school year. The priority deadline is fast approaching. A third cohort of students is planned in 2025.