2018 islander scholars

Islander Scholars is so much more than an award; it is a life-changing experience that connects us to each other, deepens our learning of ʻāina and kuleana, and reveals our gifts and growth.

All 38 of the 2018 Class of Islander Scholars gathered at Camp Pālehua in Kapolei, Oahu from June 1 to 3, 2018 to expand their identities as islanders and leaders of their school communities.

This 2018 Islander Scholars Program taught me what it truly means to be an islander, and what the rest of the world can learn from us, if they just listen.
— 2018 Islander Scholar

At Pālehua, we hiked to Nānākuli lookout and asked ourselves, “What’s the difference being in a place and being OF a place?” We explored these answers by helping Mālama Learning Center in their ongoing restoration efforts to clear invasive plants to make way for native species to grow. Throughout the weekend in small groups, we created a safe, nonjudgmental, intimate space to share the stories of our names, communities, and gifts to expand our understanding of our kuleana as islanders.

On the second day, we went on a huakaʻi to Mokauea Island and put our islander kuleana into practice by learning the moʻolelo of Keʻehi from Aunty Kēhaulani Kupihea of Hoʻolā Mokauea, exploring the reef for animals and limu with Uncle Wally Ito of Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo, learning to throw net with Uncle Scotty Garlough of Hoʻoulu ʻĀina, and taking a small but meaningful step toward healing the island and ourselves by removing invasives and planting natives.

On our last day together, we shared about the people we are, the people we are becoming, and the commitments we want to make to ourselves as the Islander Scholars head into their senior year of high school. We closed our weekend together in a celebration with the past 2016 and 2017 Islander Scholars and island leaders. Half of the 2016 and 2017 Islander Scholars returned to re-connect and honor their successors. Over the past year, we have seen them grow and unfurl, act on their kuleana, and continue being the amazing islanders that they are.

The 2018 Islander Scholars were each given a pendant of a koru, designed and made by Ahukini Kupihea, to symbolize the Islander Scholars and their continual journey to grow and move outward.








photos from the 2018 islander scholars academy

2018 sponsors

Mahalo to the following sponsors for their support of the 2018 Islander Scholars.

  • Kamehameha Schools

  • The HEI Charitable Foundation

  • Nā Lei Aloha Foundation

  • Alaska Airlines

  • Harold K.L. Castle Foundation

  • Honuʻapo

  • Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association

  • Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association



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