In an effort to increase the support for members of the healthcare workforce that are committed to serving Native Hawaiian communities, the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program added an additional funding support called Kākoʻo Ulu ʻOihana.
It is one-time support to establish additional health scholarship pathways and provide professional development opportunities for Native Hawaiian health professionals. With the management of two scholarships, Mauli Ola Mālamalama was created, the health workforce development center of Papa Ola Lōkahi.
In the fall of 2021, the first pilot was conducted and 11 scholars were awarded: Regina Keala Hilo, Ualani Hoʻopai, Kauluwehi Kato, Dayne Duke Kealanahele, Susiele Koga-Truong, Celia Main, ʻIʻiwileo Pacarro, Cyndie Rayoan, Haʻaheo Scanlan, Kalena Spinola, and Jrae Viela.
Hilo is a mother of four and pursuing her master’s in archaeology/anthropology. “I heard about the Kākoʻo Ulu ʻOihana scholarship from Dr. Landon Opunui, medical director at Nā Puʻuwai and a colleague of Papa Iwikuamoʻo. Struggling to financially support myself through the final semesters of graduate school, I wasn’t certain I could afford tuition for Papa Iwikuamoʻo but valued the ʻike, collective energy, and support.”
Regina said that receiving the scholarship “felt like confirmation that the work I’m doing for our ʻiwi kūpuna, as directed and supported by my kumu, mentors, colleagues, and ʻohana, is meaningful and needs to continue.”
Pacarro is pursuing a dual-degree in applied sciences in Hawaiian and Indigenous Health and Healing and in Sustainable Community Food Systems.
“I heard about the scholarship from one of my professors and it came at the best timing, I was laid off a few weeks prior to the Fall 2021 semester and was worried about how I was going to afford everything,” said ʻIʻiwileo. “By having one less thing to worry about, I was able to focus on getting involved with programs such as Nā Pale o Kualakaʻi and the Niu Now Movement [an effort to] bring back the coconut as a food staple.”
Mauli Ola Mālamalama recognizes the need for innovation such as this program provides. It addresses one of the main barriers to higher education – financing it.
Those who aren’t eligible for the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship are encouraged to apply for Kākoʻo Ulu ʻOihana. There will be two to three funding cycles per year. For upcoming informational workshops and application dates, go to www.mom.smapply.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.