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Maikalewa Koka
March 17, 2023
  • Maikalewa Koka

Maikalewa Koka is from Kapolei, and a student in the Travel Industry Management Program at the Shidler College of Business. When he is not in class, he enjoys boating, traditional Hawaiian woodworking and Polynesian wayfinding.

This is his reflection on his experience at UH, his vision for his future, and a personal message to the donors who are helping him get there.

My experience at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has been nothing short of fantastic. I have found that the opportunities for growth and learning at UH Mānoa are endless. As a native Hawaiian, I have had the privilege of studying with some of the most renowned professors and experts in my field. In just one day, I could attend a business class taught by a former high-ranking attorney who worked on some of the most significant cases in Hawai‘’'s recent history. Then, I could attend a class on ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, taught by a kanaka scholar with a wealth of knowledge of the Hawaiian language and culture.

My experience at UH Mānoa has allowed me to connect with my culture in new and meaningful ways, while also providing me with a world-class education that will help me achieve my personal, academic and professional goals.

Besides graduating, there are two main things that I would like to achieve during my college experience.

First, as a native Hawaiian, I am committed to preserving and promoting my cultural heritage. One of the ways that I hope to do this is by learning as much as I can in the Hawaiian language. This is my mother tongue, and I believe that learning the language will help me to better understand my own culture and to communicate and connect with others who share my heritage.

Second, I would like to make as many meaningful connections as I can during my time in college. This includes networking with alumni in my field of interest, marine transportation, as well as with knowledgeable professors and other hard-working students. By doing so, I hope to gain valuable insights, expand my knowledge and skills, and build a network of contacts that will help me to achieve my career goals.

The best advice I ever received is that a great leader does not assume, he assesses. This advice has been invaluable to me throughout my life, both in my personal and professional endeavors. I have learned that making assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities, whereas taking the time to assess a situation can lead to better decision-making and more successful outcomes. As a result, I strive to be a leader who always takes the time to gather information and understand the perspectives of others before making important decisions. By doing so, I believe that I can help to create a more collaborative and effective team, and ultimately achieve greater success in all my endeavors.

As a proud Kanaka ʻōiwi, my career goals have always been centered on contributing to the betterment of the people of Hawai‘i and my lāhui. Specifically, my passion lies in the marine shipping industry, where I hope to work toward improving the efficiency and sustainability of transportation and shipping in Hawai‘i.

I believe that it is crucial to hold Hawaiian representation in this industry, as shipping and transportation play such an integral role in Hawai‘’'s economy and daily life. By bringing a Hawaiian perspective to the industry, I hope to help ensure that it aligns with the values and needs of our community and respects the unique cultural and environmental considerations of our islands. I am excited about the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to Hawai‘’'s future through my work in the marine shipping industry.

To my donors:

As a first-generation college student, I thank you. Receiving a scholarship is an incredible honor and it means the world to me.

Growing up, I have always dreamed of being the first in my family to receive and graduate with a bachelor's degree. Thanks to you, I am one step closer to achieving that goal. Your generosity has  lifted a financial burden off my shoulders and given me the motivation to work harder and strive for excellence in my studies.

You are playing a vital role in my personal and professional goals. My education will be a guiding star, for me and my family, and for future generations. I can't express enough how much your support means to me and how grateful I am for your generosity.

Please know that any amount of support, no matter how big or small, is greatly appreciated and will be well-utilized. Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for investing in my education and for believing in me.

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.