Retired professor Hazel Theodore recently doubled the size of her scholarship for students of the ʻImi Hoʻōla (“Those who seek to heal”) Post-Baccalaureate Program at the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) medical school. She was inspired to do so, by the scholarship students themselves–the ones she has met since she established the Hazel Tominaga Tsutsui Theodore ʻImi Hoʻōla Program Scholarship Endowment at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). Hazel was also moved by a video produced this year which featured several graduating physicians in the MD Class of 2017 — each of whom explained how scholarships made a profound difference in their ability to graduate as MDs.
Hazel Theodore had lunch at JABSOM recently with the most current recipient of her generosity, first-year MD student Edy Kaleimomi (“Kalei”) Gomes. Gomes completed the ʻImi program in June 2017, earning her spot in the new MD Class. “It is definitely a hard journey,” Gomes said, when asked about the intensive one-year ʻImi program. ʻImi accepts students like Kalei, who have the potential to become physicians, even if they may not have the science background to gain entry into medical school.
“I felt a little uneasy entering ʻImi, because I had spent the majority of my undergraduate years studying Linguistics and Native Hawaiian language. I had to acclimate very quickly to the program and the rigorous study of the sciences.”
That year of rigorous study includes more than science, adding courses in the humanities and community work projects, too.
“But it’s definitely worth it in the long run,” said Kalei.
Hazel is convinced that the ʻImi program is an asset. She has attended several of the ceremonies that are held each year for the students who complete the grueling ʻImi program. She has listened to the personal stories of students like Kalei, and come to know the faculty members who guide them. She knows that 256 physicians got their start in ʻImi — and most of them have returned to their communities to provide care to underserved areas.
Kalei Gomes with Dr. Winona Lee, Director of ʻImi Hoʻōla, and Hazel Theodore
About Hazel Theodore
Hazel Theodore was born and brought up in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. She was graduated from Farrington High School and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa with a Bachelor’s degree with a major in Economics and a minor in Business. Hazel then embarked on her postgraduate education and earned a master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, New York.
After returning to Hawai‘i, Hazel joined the College of Commerce where she served as assistant director for seven years and Kapi‘olani Community College working as professor of Business Education for 26 years.