Kūlia i Ka Nu‘u

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Photo: Jerneen Kauahi

By Jerneen Kauahi, Grade 10 Kanu o ka ʻĀina New Century Public Charter School

Looking back at my life now as a 15-year-old, I’ve experienced a lot of things. Many of which were positive and beneficial towards my future. It wasn’t until middle school that I “broadened my horizons” and opened up to new opportunities.

The first opportunity that I took hold of was being involved in the performing arts. At the age of 10, I took my first singing class at the Kahilu Theater. Now keep in mind, I was bashful before attending this class – so bashful that my heart would pound and my voice would turn soft if someone tried to even say “hi” to me.

However, that all changed when I first opened my mouth to sing in front of a crowd. That was the time when I discovered who I truly was and because of this, I became an extrovert and began to take any opportunity that came my way.

Recently, I was fortunate to have been a part of a global event called “All Together Now.” It was truly a humbling experience learning about the art of performing on stage and how to portray emotions through just talking. Theater is one of the places where I’ve planted my roots.

Another opportunity I’ve taken is enrolling in college classes. If there was one thing that I was set about in my life, and still is, is that I am going to attend college once I’m pau with high school. That will be where I’ll be able to experience something different and also be challenged academically. So during my freshman year of high school, I called my college counselor to see if there were any college classes that I could attend. With her guidance and encouragement, I attended a few college classes during my freshman year and have been doing so ever since.

Another college counselor/kumu has also been encouraging me to continue taking these classes and to make sure that I go to college. They’ve also been teaching me about the real world and how to take care of basic life functions. For example, I learned about car insurance, mortgages, and how to apply for a job. Because of their support, I’m excited to share that I will be obtaining an Associate of Arts degree towards the end of my junior year of high school!

I’ve been taking advantage of a lot of opportunities and have been determined enough to complete and stay committed to them. However, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my ʻohana.

Since day one, they’ve watched me grow into the person I feel that I am today. I am a high school sophomore, a sister, an aunty, a cousin, and a daughter. I am a determined, grateful, motivated person. My ʻohana are the reason why I choose to be this way. In the toughest of times, when I feel stressed out or frustrated, they encourage me and hype me up with their positive mindsets. My constant push to kūlia i ka nuʻu is because of them. I love them to the cosmos and back. Mahalo nui for the opportunities and support that I’ve been given throughout my life, for I am eternally grateful.