Despite the hardships of his youth, UH West Oʻahu sophomore Jensen Codi Wills-Ching clung to his goals of making his mother and grandmother proud. The soft-spoken student shared his story when thanking the donors who helped to ease the financial burden of his higher education journey.
“I would like to mahalo the donors,” he said. “Your dedication to students and higher education is very much appreciated.
“Being raised by a single parent, my mother worked hard to help me pay my way through college. These scholarships have greatly reduced that financial stress and now my family and I can focus more on each other rather than money,” said the Justice Administration and Community Health student to a room full of UH West Oʻahu students, donors, supporters, and administrators, at the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation and UH West Oʻahu Scholarship Celebration Luncheon on Sept. 13.
The youngest of four and first in his family to attend college, Wills-Ching grew up transitioning from home to home and school to school along the Waiʻanae Coast and spent a part of his early childhood in foster care. He was one of nearly 100 UH West Oʻahu students to receive a scholarship in 2018-2019. This year, UH West Oʻahu awarded 10 new scholarships and students received more than $225,000 in scholarships and student support.
The luncheon provides scholarship recipients and donors an opportunity to meet and greet and get to know each other and gives the recipients a chance to thank those who are making life-changing contributions to their lives. The scholarships provide the assistance that students need to continue their higher education journey and impact their communities. Wills-Ching, who is the recipient of the Hawaiʻi Veterans Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship and the Tsukasa and Akiko Matsui Endowed Scholarship, said that he wants to help to address homelessness and improve education for Native Hawaiians and achieve his greatest goal of “making his mother and grandma proud.”
As UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Maenette Benham put it: “We celebrate you, our beloved donors, because your generosity opens up the world to our students.”