Ever since he was young, Mark Lupenui KSK’82 has had a love for art and a dream to become a great artist. However, coming from a blue-collar family, he felt the pressure to walk a “more sensible” path and opted for a bachelor of arts in social sciences.
After college, Lupenui took on jobs as a salesman, security guard and forklift driver just to pay the rent, but still yearned to make art, so he took on jobs as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. This still wasn’t enough to pay the rent and he struggled with what to do with his life.
“I felt I had wasted my big chance to go to school because I had been afraid to share my dream with my family,” Lupenui said.
Through his continued passion for art driving him, and the constant support of his wife, Cheryl, he applied and got accepted to the master’s program at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
With the help of the Pauahi Foundation’s Ula Baker Sheecha Scholarship, he now has the opportunity to pursue his dreams.
“The Foundation’s scholarship has allowed me more time to pursue my master’s degree by taking some of the financial burden,” said Lupenui. “It serves as a reminder of the importance of completing this leg of my journey, so I can fulfill my kuleana to the Foundation by giving back to our Native Hawaiian community.”
Now in the second half of his master’s program, Lupenui is thriving in his study of art with a 3.6 grade point average. He recently received approval to move forward with his thesis project, which is based on a series of portraits of contemporary Hawaiians.
“The joy and appreciation is indescribable. My future seems brighter than I could have ever imagined!” Lupenui said.