College Help For Hawaii’s Best, Brightest
Hawaii Rotary clubs award 68 college scholarships to Isle students totaling $323,000, including two worth $10,000
It’s all about intellectual capital. There’s no escaping the fact that the cost of attending college is rising, but there is good news: More than $143 billion in financial aid is available, according to the national College Board.
Here in Hawaii, one of the prime supporters of investing in the education of our youth are the Rotary clubs, whose motto is “Service Above Self.” Since 1976, the Hawaii Rotary Youth Foundation (HRYF) has awarded 1,342 scholarships totaling $4.5 million. Generous members of 43 Rotary clubs in Hawaii plus endowment funds from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation make these scholarships possible.
When one meets the top two scholarship recipients of this year’s HRYF awards, it’s clear that the investment has far-reaching effects.
Mari Tanaka of Mid-Pacific Institute and Carolynn Kitamura of Kamehameha Schools are each receiving $10,000 scholarships from HRYF. Tanaka will attend Harvard University as a pre-med major. Kitamura will enroll at the University of Hawaii at Manoa to major in biomedical engineering.
The recently graduated seniors are examples of how scholarships empower individuals. Even at their young age, both 18, they envision a future with catalytic roles in making the world a better place.
The HRYF scholarship application process is akin to a rite of passage. It causes applicants to take an introspective look at themselves as individuals and as world citizens.
Tanaka, daughter of Mary Sullivan Tanaka of Kaneohe, is the recipient of the Maurice J. Sullivan Award, named after the revered founder of Foodland stores.
Tanaka reflects on her ambitions, saying, “Ever since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to become a doctor. My favorite toy was my dad’s stethoscope. I used to walk around with it draped around my shoulders and diag-nosed family members’ maladies with imaginative names.
“However, it was my experience with my dad’s illness that galvanized my resolve. I want to be more than an ordinary doctor. I want to be innovative and progress medical knowledge so the insurmountable problems that my dad encountered will be surmountable by others in the future.”
She adds, “Right before my dad passed on, he told me he was proud of me and that I had become the type of person who would make it in the world. I hope with this scholarship I will be able to bring prestige to the Islands by demonstrating the intelligence and character of its people.”
Tanaka’s many academic and community service achievements include being class president, an outstanding athlete on the varsity softball and paddling teams, and a National Merit scholar.
Kitamura, daughter of Harris and Yuko Kitamura of Waipahu, receives the Joanna Lau Sullivan Award for a four-year scholarship at UH-Manoa. In her application, Kitamura acknowledges the value of this stipend.
She states: “This scholarship will be the bridge to priceless opportunities and an exceptional education of a lifetime.
It would mean a dream come true and hope for a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineer-
ing in four years. It will no doubt change my life in many ways.”
She asserts, “There are two things I enjoy the most in this world: science and helping others. My goal is to discover or invent something to help make the world a better place. With this scholarship, I’ll be able to take my aspirations to the next level and hopefully achieve great things in the name of Hawaii and native Hawaiians.”
Kitamura’s aptitude for science was recognized in ninth grade, when she excelled in honors biology. Instructors noted her “gift for science” and “exceptional critical-thinking skills.”
During her sophomore year, Kitamura received a Best of Category Award in Microbiology at the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair. The science department chair hailed her as a “renaissance woman, highly skilled in both the sciences and humanities, with a ready smile and a loving heart.”
According to Stanley Togikawa, HRYF president, 68 scholarships totaling $323,000 will be awarded this year. In addition to the two $10,000 scholarships, there are 57 $5,000 scholarships to Mainland universities and nine $2,000 scholarships to Hawaii universities.
The numbers are impressive, to be sure. But HRYF patrons know they’re investing today’s dollars in tomorrow’s leaders.
As Joanna Sullivan puts it: “I am so proud of these deserving students and hope that they will make the most of their college years. Education is the most powerful means for young people to realize their full potential, and that is why we support this program.”
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