The Financial Aid Kick-Off event last Friday brought “one-stop shopping” to connect Molokai high school and college students with resources to assist them in pursuing their education. More than 30 different organizations from on- and off-island were represented under one tent at University of Hawaii Maui College, Molokai, according to event organizer Nahiwa Naki, an educational specialist at the campus’ Educational Opportunity Center
“There are a lot of resources out there, and students just need to know where to look,” said Naki. “No matter what school you want to go to, it’s about the path to get there… and we want to get the most resources for our students.”
In its second year, the event seeks to make information about scholarships, financial aid and community support services readily available for Molokai students.
Uri Martos of the Hawaii Community Foundation, which offers scholarship programs, said neighbor islands can sometimes feel like “step children” when it comes to outreach opportunities. She added that events like Molokai’s Financial Aid Kick-Off afford people the ability to connect face-to-face and find out about the resources at their doorsteps.
“You can find everything in one place… all the work is done for you,” she said, adding that events like this are really important, especially for Molokai.
Students in attendance agreed.
“It’s a good opportunity to see what’s out there,” said Molokai High senior Kayla Galam, who said she’s looking for scholarships to attend college on Maui.
The event not only supported those wanting to pursue high education, but also those looking to enter the workforce. Alu Like, for example, offers financial aid to help those in vocational majors, said Molokai’s Cammy Hamakua-Napoleon.
“Our students don’t have the opportunity to go off-island [for these resources],” said Kick-Off co-organizer Kelley Dudoit. “I’ll keep doing [this event] as long as students take advantage and the community sees it as something of value.”
She said the Financial Aid Kick-Off, funded by GEAR UP Hawaii — a federal program that stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs — has received a good turn-out in its two years.