My name is Naftali Tolibas and I am a recipient of the Fernandez-Earle Scholarship. In spring 2017 I graduated from UH Mānoa with a BS in mechanical engineering. I am currently working at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona, as a mechanical engineer, focusing on testing and mechanical design.
The Fernandez-Earle scholarship made it possible for me to attend UH directly from high school, and has impacted me in many ways beyond the financials. It gave me confidence in myself as people were willing to invest in my education. This confidence got me through the rigorous courses that engineering demands. It taught me to stay focused, because if I couldn’t graduate within four years (which is difficult to achieve), I would need to pay for school out of pocket with money that I didn’t have.
This focus taught me discipline, that coffee is my friend, and that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. These are skills that have benefited me and I’ve carried them with me to my professional career.
Honestly, without the scholarship, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My sister and brother would not be in the position they are in today.
We come from parents who are Philippine immigrants and they stressed the importance of education all our lives. Because of this scholarship, I was able to give my college funds to my sister, and that allowed her to attend the University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu, and she is on track to graduate in four years. It has put my brother who is a junior in high school in a position to afford to attend a four-year university.
This scholarship did not benefit just one person, but created a ripple effect for my siblings. My whole family is grateful.
Currently I am working on testing for a missile designed to intercept threats to the Pacific Islands, including Hawai‘i. With the current state of threats from the North, it is satisfying knowing that I am working for a cause to protect my home. The work is challenging, but I have the support to help me grow.
I hope to one day start a scholarship, and return the favor for future STEM majors in Hawai‘i to give them the same opportunities that I received. Thank you, donors, for instilling hope and confidence in us, and helping us fulfill our dreams.