Being an educator was not in his plans, but Kiliona Young soon realized that it was his calling.
“I got into teaching through the recommendation of a friend,” said Kiliona, who has been a music and Hawaiian studies teacher for over 10 year now. “I loved the connection I made with the keiki, and how much I learned just from teaching.”
Unfortunately, that love for teaching was trumped by the reality of providing for his family. He knew that getting a college education was the means to advancing his life.
“I enrolled at the University of Hawai‘i Hilo as a 40 year old,” said Kiliona, a 2016 recipient of the Pauahi Foundation’s Mahi‘ai Scholarship. “I wanted to make a better life for my family and it started with me getting a college education.”
Currently, he teaches part-time at the Volcano School of Arts and Sciences in Volcano, Hawai‘i, while going to school full-time, which has been one of his biggest challenges in life financially, academically and on a personal level.
To ensure he has enough time for his family, he often studies in the morning and late at night, which has paid off with being named to the dean’s list every semester.
The Mahi‘ai Scholarship he received provides relief, as well as assurance that he will achieve his goal of getting a college education. The scholarship is a multi-year scholarship for students pursuing an education in an agriculture-related field.
“Without the help from the Pauahi Foundation and its donors, I would be working two to three jobs just to get by,” Kiliona added. “Specifically, these multi-year scholarships make it possible to finish my education.”
When he finishes college, Kiliona will devote his time to his passion—educating others. He knows that he can make a difference in the lives of keiki by giving back through his work.
“I teach K-8 and that age group is very important because it sets the foundation for who they become as adults,” said Kiliona. “It’s my passion to educate this age group and to help set them on their path.”