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MHS Senior Earns Questbridge Scholarship

By Jack Kiyonaga, Reporter

Of the many scholarships awarded to Molokai High School (MHS) students this year, one MHS senior, Mele Kaneali’i, was uniquely honored with a Questbridge Scholarship, which will fully fund her college education.

Questbridge Scholarships are intended to connect “the nation’s brightest students from low-income backgrounds with leading institutions of higher education and further opportunities,” according to the Questbridge website.

This is only the third Questbridge Scholarship to be awarded to an MHS student, according to Marge Bento of the MHS counseling department.

The scholarship will fully pay for four years of college education. For Kaneali’i, that means the scholarship will cover her expenses at Hamilton College, a value of about $315,000.

“I’m really, really thankful,” said Kaneali’i.

Kaneali’i explained that she had been encouraged to apply for the scholarship by teachers at MHS, specifically Earl Nakamura.

In Questbridge, applicants rank colleges that are partnered with the scholarship. If the college matches with you, meaning that you get accepted, you are obliged to go.

“It’s a little confusing at first,” said Kaneali’i. “You had to be really thoughtful about the schools that you ranked and know that if you get in you have to go there because they are giving you all this money,” she explained.

For Kaneali’i, she was able to match with one of the highest ranked schools on her list, Hamilton College in Upstate New York.

“I was so excited,” said Kaneali’i. “I don’t think I expected it because [Hamilton] was really high on my list.”

While she had never visited Hamilton, Kaneali’i explained that the open curriculum and small-town vibes of the school appealed to her.

“Coming from a small community like Molokai I wanted a small community even if I was going to be super far away. I wanted the chance to be close to professors and classmates,” she said.

Kaneali’i plans on using her scholarship to major in public policy with perhaps a minor in economics and sociology. She is considering law school or graduate school for public policy after college.

For Kaneali’i, the scholarship represents an opportunity to bring more expertise back to Molokai. Specifically, Kaneali’i hopes to become involved as a public policy analyst with local government.

Kaneali’i is trying to spread the word about Questbridge Scholarship opportunities to fellow MHS students. She also offered advice to students applying in the future.

“Something that surprised me when I was doing Questbridge was that they only ask for five extracurricular spots,” explained Kaneali’i. “Don’t do things just because you think they’ll look good. Do them because you care about them and you’re passionate,” she added.

Kaneali’i likewise advised for a balanced approach.

“Take opportunities whenever you can but do it in moderation. Take care of your mental health…it’s really easy to get sucked into over working and being a workaholic when you’re in this process and striving for a certain school.”



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