To stand up for my culture is my duty — ʻ Kamehameha Scholars graduates share their mana 'o

May. 12, 2020

Contributed by Nadine Lagaso

“If there is anything that I’ve learned through my experiences at school and in Kamehameha Scholars, it is that being Native Hawaiian is special, to see the world with my kūpuna’s eyes is unique, and to stand up for my culture is my duty.”

Kaʻala Deitch, Kamehameha Scholar – East Hawaiʻi

More than 110 haumāna statewide will graduate from high school prepared for their post-high endeavors thanks to Kamehameha Schools’ nationally acclaimed Kamehameha Scholars program.

The college and career counseling program provides high schoolers with post-secondary planning support, year-round workshops and interactive lessons grounded in the Hawaiian culture. Approximately 710 public and private high school students were enrolled in the program during the 2019-2020 school year.

Kamehameha Scholars seniors from East Hawaiʻi were the first to celebrate their academic achievement with a Zoom graduation, which allowed friends and family to cheer them on.

“Our graduation was planned by scholars, for scholars,” said Kealakūlia Counselor Jess Waiaʻu, who along with co-counselor Kūlani Calina provided guidance to the students since their freshman year. “This wasn’t the celebration that seniors were hoping for, but we were able to use innovation and creativity to honor their accomplishments.

“I am so proud of our scholars and am truly excited to see what the future holds for them. They are uniquely positioned to be the leaders of tomorrow as they have had to thrive in this harsh environment.”

The 2020 graduates shared their heartfelt manaʻo about the program as part of their final assignment. Here is what some of them had to say: