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Mitchell K. Dwyer   |   Staff Writer
March 7, 2024
  • UH West O‘ahu Academy for Creative Media

Thanks to a generous donation from the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation, students in UH Mānoa’s ACM: The School of Cinematic Arts and UH West O‘ahu’s Academy for Creative Media are now receiving scholarships.

The scholarships are one part of a new initiative supporting retention, graduation, and career readiness for UH’s diverse student population. Led by UH Mānoa School of Cinematic Arts chair Christine Acham and UH West O‘ahu Academy for Creative Media director Sharla Hanaoka, this program aims for collaboration of arts and sciences disciplines across UH’s campuses.

The grant allows such flexibility that the School of Cinematic Arts provided financial assistance for spring and fall 2024 to 10 students with a variety of needs. “One student has been unable to obtain a degree because of an outstanding tuition bill,” says Acham. “Others with multiple part-time jobs may now enroll in digital cinema production classes, which require students to film on weekends when they would normally be at work.” Some recipients are now able to accept internship opportunities, freed from work obligations, and funds also help a few students with basic living and transportation needs.

Science and the creative process

Another aspect of the program is a new course designed and taught by UH West O‘ahu professor Bradley Ashburn: The Creative Process in the Physical Sciences. The course empowers undergrads who may have had negative experiences with science. It offers hands-on activities, allowing them to solve problems via non-intimidating scientific techniques and approaches, helping them to discover that scientific processes are like design processes, and that innovation occurs at the intersection of engineering and the arts.

“Only two of the 20 students had done any computer programming,” says Ashburn, “and now they are all using the pillars of computational thinking and the scientific method to solve complex problems.” More than 75 percent of students in the course are in UH West O‘ahu’s Academy for Creative Media, and the course will be a foundation for students pursuing the Game Design and Development concentration and for students interested in web and mobile app development.

“Yet all students, not only ACM students, will learn how thinking like a scientist can enhance any career path they choose,” says Ashburn. “I can see doors opening for them when I ask if they’ve ever thought about being software engineers or building their own apps. They are responding well to the connection that technology is a way to empower their creativity.”

Progressive and ever-evolving academic practices

“We are most excited about creating a more formalized structure across different UH campuses, building an agreement that can benefit students who seek four-year degrees,” says Acham.

Hanoaka says the funding makes it possible to transcend traditional academic boundaries. “The faculty and I are eager to nurture our students’ innate creativity, providing experiences where arts, technology, and science overlap,” she says. “I look forward to groundbreaking contributions when our students are equipped with the tools and support to surpass limits imposed by siloed approaches to education. This initiative reflects our commitment to progressive and ever-evolving academic practices unleashing their potential.”

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808 376-7800 or send us a message.