Congratulations to eight University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu students, recipients of the prestigious UH Regents, UH Presidential, and UH West Oʻahu Chancellor’s scholarships.
The recipients are Regents Scholar Ashlie Marie Ferido; Presidential Scholar Skye Sachiko Yasuda; and Chancellor’s Scholars Samantha Nicole Olipares Datoc, Lorna Hiʻi Alo Pulelehua Casugay De La Cruz, ʻIlikea Kanoeliʻi Gould, Nisha Nimoaʻi, Maya Zoey Pascual Puaa, and Matthew Isami Schaefer.
“This scholarship … gives me another point to work even harder in continuing to pursue my educational dreams,” said Chancellor’s Scholar Datoc. “To me, the scholarship is not the end but just the beginning.”
The recipients expressed a shared feeling of gratitude and motivation to continue toward their educational goals. Learn more about the students and the scholarships they received:
Regents Scholarships support Hawai’i high school resident students with a record of outstanding academic achievement. Regents Scholars receive a full tuition waiver for four years of undergraduate study, $4,000 a year, and a one-time travel grant of $2,000. Regents Scholarships are awarded to outstanding freshmen who receive a SAT total score of at least 1340 or ACT combined score of at least 29, maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in academic subjects in high school, and whose extracurricular achievements are shown to be remarkable.
Regents Scholar Ashlie Marie Ferido
Name: Ashlie Marie Ferido
High school: Leilehua High School
How do you feel about receiving the scholarship? I was so shocked when I received the email that I was selected as a Regents Scholar. I feel motivated to continue work hard because I know that one day it will all pay off.
What does this scholarship mean to you? This scholarship means so much to me because it is an achievement that proved that all my hard work was worth it and I’m one step closer to my future.
Were there any challenges or successes in your life that lead you to where you are today as a student? In elementary school, we had these awards that would go to students who put in the most effort and did quality work every year, and whoever won the award was seen as the one who would be the most successful when they grew up. I won an outstanding student award in every grade level, and that set up my high expectations early on. And from there I have always worked hard and tried my best in everything because I knew that I wanted to be a police officer early on, I chose to create my path to success early.
Why did you choose to attend UH West Oʻahu? I chose to attend UH West Oʻahu because it was close to home and meant that I could continue to be a part of the Honolulu Law Enforcement Explorers Program.
Is there anything else you’d like to share? I have always known what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was that one kid nobody asked what they want to do as a job because they already knew the answer. Every Halloween I dressed up in a Police Officer costume and took pictures with any cop that I saw around town. I can confidently say, that I have found my purpose in life, and my ultimate goal is to help make a difference in peoples lives.
Presidential Scholarships support students with a record of outstanding academic achievement. Presidential Scholars receive a full tuition waiver for two years of undergraduate study, $4,000 a year, and a one-time travel grant of $2,000. The Presidential Scholarship is awarded to one UH System community college junior who has a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.7 for all college-level work, a record of sustained progress in academic courses, and evidence of superior academic achievement or creative endeavor. Presidential Scholarships focus on supporting the transfer of UH System community college students to UH baccalaureate campuses as juniors.
Presidential Scholar Skye Sachiko Yasuda
Name: Skye Sachiko Yasuda
High school: Waipahu High School
How do you feel about receiving the scholarship? I felt very honored to have been awarded this scholarship. All my hard work felt like it was being paid off.
What does this scholarship mean to you? This scholarship allows me to show everyone around me what is possible with hard work and dedication. I made my family, friends, community, and alma maters proud.
Were there any challenges or successes in your life that lead you to where you are today as a student? I graduated from Waipahu High School this past May 2021 with my high school diploma as a Valedictorian, Academic and Career Technical Education Honors, and as a member of the National Honor Society and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. At the same time, I graduated with Leeward Community College’s Spring Class of 2021 with my Associates in Science in Teaching Degree and Associate in Arts Degree with Honors as well as my Certificate in Culturally Responsive Teaching. I became the first high schooler in the state to do so. I sacrificed and went through many challenges in order to get to where I am today.
Why did you choose to attend UH West Oʻahu? I felt that UH West Oʻahu could offer me more opportunities to give back to my community, whether it is getting a job in education close to home or being a teacher candidate at one of the schools on the west side.
The Chancellor’s Scholarship is an award that acknowledges academic achievement, leadership, and community service. The UH West Oʻahu Chancellor’s Scholarship is valued at $7,344 ($3,672/semester) and will be awarded to high-achieving high school graduates who are entering UH West Oʻahu for the 2022-2023 academic year. Recipients of the UH West Oʻahu Chancellor’s Scholarship will be required to serve as UH West Oʻahu Student Representatives. The Chancellor’s Scholarship is awarded to Hawaiʻi high school resident graduates with a 3.5 cumulative GPA and evidence of academic achievement, leadership, and community service.
Chancellor’s Scholar Samantha Nicole Olipares Datoc
Name: Samantha Nicole Olipares Datoc
Hometown: I was raised in Kāneʻohe from birth till 8th grade and moved to ʻEwa Beach for high school. I see Kāneʻohe more as my hometown since most of my memories were made there. Though I’m hoping to get out more often once COVID is over so I can start considering ʻEwa Beach as equal of a hometown as I see Kāneʻohe.
High school: Kapolei High School
How do you feel about receiving the scholarship? Ecstatic and relieved. Getting the scholarship felt impossible knowing that a ton of others would go head on for the opportunity as well. So I was shocked when I got the email stating that I got it. It was like the little war in my head fighting back and forth on doubting that I’d get it and staying positive about the possible outcome had finally ended. I was relieved to know that my parents didn’t need to pay my tuition and ecstatic that I could put a smile on my family’s faces.
What does this scholarship mean to you? Everything. This scholarship is a blessing for me and my family. Receiving this scholarship has reduced my worry of being a financial burden to my family, given me peace of mind, and gives me another point to work even harder in continuing to pursue my educational dreams. To me, the scholarship is not the end but just the beginning.
Were there any challenges or successes in your life that lead you to where you are today as a student? Switching from a lively high school setting to a completely online education for my junior/senior year of high school and now my first year of college was definitely a challenge. Not being able to ask a teacher a question right then and there, interact with classmates to help one another, or have a bell to tell me when to get going. Not to mention being confined to the walls of my room were things that tested my patience, communication efforts, and self-managing skills. The new learning environment messed with me a lot. But thankfully due to the advice of my academic advisor, I feel a lot more organized going into this school year and know I will continue to implement the advice into my educational and personal life. To those of you reading this, I’m begging you all to use alarms, calendars, planners, to-do lists, and to take some breaks for yourself.
Why did you choose to attend UH West Oʻahu? The atmosphere felt welcoming. Whenever people would talk about UH West Oʻahu the terms “it’s a beautiful campus, everyone is welcoming and kind there it’s like a family, you’re a student there known by either your face or name not a number” always seem to come out and it attracted me. But what really struck me was the opportunity to receive an education from home and not leave my family, which means everything to me.
Is there anything else you’d like to share? I’d like to thank the UH West Oʻahu Office of Admissions and the Chancellor for blessing me with this opportunity. I’d also like to thank Ms. Cohen and Ms. Keʻalohi for allowing me to “bother’ them over the summer by touching bases with me, I definitely would be lost without their help. Besides that, I’d like to thank my family for their love and support.
Chancellor’s Scholar Lorna Hiʻi Alo Pulelehua Casugay De La Cruz
Name: Lorna Hi’i Alo Pulelehua Casugay De La Cruz
Hometown: I have moved a couple of times on the island of Oʻahu but for the last influential years in my childhood (13 years old to present), I have lived in ʻEwa.
High school: James Campbell High School
How do you feel about receiving the scholarship? I am so grateful to be a recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship. As someone who does not have a very lavish life, I was very thankful to be given a pathway to further my education. I hope to not only utilize what UH West Oʻahu has given me, but also give back to them as a Chancellor’s Scholar.
What does this scholarship mean to you? This scholarship means a lot to me as it helped me not worry about my freshman year tuition. I am also ecstatic about what I can do to help UH West Oʻahu.
Were there any challenges or successes in your life that lead you to where you are today as a student? One of the proudest accomplishments that have shaped me as a student is graduating as a Valedictorian. Speaking truthfully, that honor has never been a goal for me as it seemed like one of those out-of-reach things. When I got the email congratulating me, it was the most surreal experience. It showed me that our potential is greater than it seems, and to always try our best. You never know what you can accomplish.
Why did you choose to attend UH West Oʻahu? I decided to attend UH West Oʻahu because of the realistic tuition expenses as well as the aloha it possesses. In high school, I have been able to meet some professors through early college classes and they were the most loving people. They drew me into attending the school. As of now, most of my classes are asynchronous, but the people I have met have shown me that everyone treats each other as a family. That’s something you can only get at a school like UH West Oʻahu.
Is there anything else you’d like to share? I thank UH West Oʻahu so much for giving me this opportunity to represent you as one of your Chancellor’s Scholars. I am so excited to be more involved and can’t wait for the things we can accomplish.
Chancellor’s Scholar ʻIlikea Kanoeliʻi Gould
Name: ʻIlikea Kanoeliʻi Gould
High school: Kapolei High School
Degree/Major: Health Sciences
How do you feel about receiving the scholarship? I feel blessed that I was awarded with this scholarship. This scholarship meant that I could help myself and parents with the cost of college.
What does this scholarship mean to you? As an incoming freshmen, this scholarship means that all the things I did to push myself in high school paid off. I worked really hard academically and in extracurricular activities to be able to go to school on this scholarship.
Why did you choose to attend UH West Oʻahu? I chose to attend West Oʻahu because it was close to home. Especially during this pandemic, I didn’t want to leave for the mainland with the possibility of getting sick and others sick as well, so I decided to stay home.
Chancellor’s Scholar Nisha Nimoaʻi
Name: Nisha Nimoaʻi
Hometown: Mākaha, Waiʻanae
High school: Kamaile Academy Public Charter School
How do you feel about receiving the scholarship? It took a minute for me to process what just happened. I was overjoyed but also crying because a huge weight was just taken off my shoulders.
What does this scholarship mean to you? This scholarship means the world to me and my family. This pandemic hasn’t been the most kind experience for myself or anyone for that matter, and this scholarship felt like something good was finally happening this year (aside from graduating of course).
Were there any challenges or successes in your life that lead you to where you are today as a student? This pandemic has taken a lot of me as a student, but it also made me rethink my values and what I want in life. I felt like I hit rock bottom in my senior year, that it took me weeks to bounce back up and take care of myself. However, I don’t regret the failures I had because it taught me so much about myself and what I needed to change to become a stronger version of myself.
Chancellor’s Scholar Maya Zoey Pascual Puaa
Name: Maya Zoey Pascual Puaa
Hometown: ʻEwa Beach
High school: James Campbell High School
Degree/Major: Secondary Education in the Social Studies concentration
How do you feel about receiving the scholarship? I feel extremely blessed and honored to be a Chancellor’s scholarship recipient, especially since it makes me feel like all of my hard work finally paid off.
What does this scholarship mean to you? This scholarship means that despite having challenges and downfalls, I am still capable of achieving greatness. It gave me so much hope and happiness knowing that my family and I didn’t have to worry about tuition too!
Were there any challenges or successes in your life that lead you to where you are today as a student? As an active and spirited high school student, I had trouble dealing with an overload of things on my plate both academically and socially, and balancing it all with challenging courses. Oftentimes, I pushed myself to the breaking point from an overwhelming amount of stress and procrastination, but through it all, I managed to push through with grit. Fortunately, being a very optimistic and goal-driven individual, I never let the challenges stop me from pursuing my passions. To this day, I am grateful for my family, friends, God, and music for getting me through those trying times.
Why did you choose to attend UH West Oʻahu? I have heard many positive things about the community, programs, and environment of UH West Oʻahu from friends, early college professors, and even my own sister who also attends this school. It seemed like a great fit when I attended online college presentations, and growing up as an ʻEwa girl, the commute was an added bonus!
Is there anything else you’d like to share? Throughout a lot of my life, I had always been a spirited, passionate person who strived to produce the best work, fine-tune my talents, and add a little extra spice to even the smallest of projects. I threw myself into performing arts clubs, academic competitions, and even leadership positions all to get the most out of my experiences. Inevitably, the pros came with cons, and this made life very difficult to manage on top of just being a teenager in our world today. But what makes me the proudest of all, is my willingness to push through it despite the tough days. So to anyone out there who needs a little inspiration and motivation today: If you’re ever feeling lost, down, or stuck, remember how you fought through 100% of all your worst days. You are a true warrior for pushing through! So never forget who you are, because you are more than the challenges that try to bring you down.
Chancellor’s Scholar Matthew Isami Schaefer
Name: Matthew Isami Schaefer
High school: Mililani High School
How do you feel about receiving the scholarship? I was honestly overwhelmed when I first received the news. In fact I was so overwhelmed when I received the news of being awarded the Chancellor’s Scholarship, I jumped out of my chair with joy in the middle of one of my high school classes. I also felt really excited to receive this scholarship, as it allows me the chance to meet more people.
What does this scholarship mean to you? The Chancellor’s Scholarship means a lot to me, as I don’t have to burden my family with having to assist a fourth child through college. Especially with how tough the times have been due to COVID-19, this scholarship has really allowed me to put one step forward towards learning to be more responsible and independent.
Were there any challenges or successes in your life that lead you to where you are today as a student? The biggest challenges that I’ve faced throughout my high school career was honestly keeping motivated, as I would often find myself becoming burned out with my studies. However, during my junior year my passion really ignited again. That’s because junior year was the year I rediscovered my love for learning. This was through my AP Biology science project, which turned into a first-place state winning science fair project. It all began with my partner and I looking into an idea we were curious about, until it eventually turned into a full-fledged research project that allowed us to learn more about the environment and through our long days of working on it we eventually got the opportunity to represent our project at the state level competition. We just missed out on the chance of attending ISEF ( International Science and Engineering Fair) but we did get the honor of placing first in the Earth and Environmental division at the 2020 virtual state science fair. Through this experience it’s really helped shape me into the student I am today.
Why did you choose to attend UH West Oʻahu? I chose the University of West Oʻahu because I’ve heard a lot of good things about this university, especially through my friends who graduated a few years before me who attend UH West Oʻahu. What I’ve often heard is that West Oʻahu treats you more as a person rather than a number as you can really get to know your professors and advisors, versus just being randomly called on within a classroom of hundred-plus students.