Hometowns: Big Island and Oahu
Degrees: Hawaiʻi Community College, AA in Liberal Arts; University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, BA in Psychology
Why did you choose UH Law?
I believed that going to law school would be a worthwhile avenue for me to help the people who need it the most.
What were you doing before you started Law School?
After graduation, I worked at Helping Hands Hawaiʻi as a case manager for adults with mental illness. After mass layoffs due to State budget cuts to mental health, I worked as an intake specialist at the Chief Clerk’s Office of the Hawaiʻi State House of Representatives.
Where are you headed after you graduate?
Wherever the wind blows and wherever they’ll have me. I hope to do some type of community work that will involve making life better for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged of our community and to prevent even more Hawaiʻi families from experiencing further degradation by misguided social policies.
Describe a highlight of your law school experience.
1st: Getting accepted into the school. I didn’t think I’d get in.
2nd: Getting an opportunity to be in the Ulu Lehua Scholars program, which is a rare opportunity to experience a unique approach to legal education.
3rd: Passing my first semester classes. I was sure that I would fail. Thankfully, I was wrong.
4th: Participating in an empirical research study on Oahu’s landlord & tenant court process.
5th: Externing at the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children, working for wonderful people, and getting a peek at the life of a community lawyer.
Describe a fellow student or professor or mentor who has inspired you.
There have been a handful of people, friends and faculty, who have helped me along my way. But two people in particular stand out.
Professor Linda Hamilton Krieger, the director of the Ulu Lehua Scholars program, has been an invaluable mentor. When I felt that I could not get through law school, she convinced me in her gentle, yet persuasive manner to stay until the end of the first semester. Thankfully, I took her advice. In addition, she has helped me to study more effectively and think more critically. But most importantly, she was always there to give the emotional support and guidance that I needed to get through the rigors of law school.
Professor Dina Shek, the director of the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children has also been an invaluable mentor. She has been a great example of what being a community lawyer can entail with a humorous, yet real-world, perspective. It has been a truly rewarding and eye-opening experience.
What have you most appreciated about being an Ulu Lehua Scholar?
I consider the program as a pioneer on the frontier of legal education. One gets to experience the best of legal education while maintaining a critical eye on the process as a whole. Granted, the program is still growing into its relatively new body, but it is a model of how legal education can improve by nourishing not only law students’ legal analysis, but also their creative capital and free spirit. There is much to learn from this program.
What advice would you give to an entering law student?
My advice is for new students who are like I was when entering law school; for those who do not know and are not related to lawyers or judges; who get into law school knowing virtually nothing of the legal world; but who are capable and willing to learn.
Take care of your mind, body, and soul. Have faith in yourself and the fact that Hawaiʻi’s law school and particularly the Ulu Lehua program chose you. Do not tear down your achievement. Filter out the extreme perceptions and unhealthy habits of your peers and society. Work to help people who really need it. Know that you can only give it your best and if that is not good enough for law school and others, then that is their loss. Know that you are worth it and just as competent as your classmates.