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When senioritis hits

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what-are-the-best-college-senior-memes-1688002710-jan-12-2014-1-600x400[1]Finals week is here and in full swing. Like every other senior who is about to graduate, most of our thoughts are either “OMG I NEED TO DO WELL IN ORDER TO GRADUATE” or “If I don’t take this final and fail, can I still graduate?” I am categorized in the last group of trying to figure out what bare minimum I can do in order to pass and graduate. Motivation can be hard to find when you’re so close to the end but as my parents constantly remind me, grades unfortunately still do matter.

So what have I done to keep up the motivation to actually go to class and study for the last bit of my undergraduate career? What is the answer to every single college student’s motivational struggle? Coffee. Just joking. Although coffee is a magical substance that can keep you up all day and all night long, the motivation still unfortunately has to come from you. Every time I don’t want to do an assignment or throw my hands in the air crying and asking what is the point in life, I think about why I’m here. My education is so important. I have spent so much money to be here and walk up on that stage on Saturday to get that diploma.

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Grad fair 2016 with my best friends

Now whether you are a graduating senior like myself, or a first-year finishing up their last semester of their freshman year, getting good grades is always worth it. Be an example, be a motivating force for those around you and do well. Give people something to be proud of you for and trust me in the end you will be so happy you worked hard. You will give yourself so many more options than you would have had had you gotten bad grades. So study hard and before you know it the school year will be over. Summer is right around the corner, friends. Good luck everyone!

 

It was one craaaazy day

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WAR IX Meet//Spokane, WA

Saturday, April 9th was probably one of the most stressful days of my life. The perks about being really involved on campus is having to choose what event to attend when there are conflicts and let me tell you, there are always going to be conflicts. As you all know, I am a thrower on the SMU Track & Field team and I am also the President of Hui ‘O Hawai’i.  This weekend our annual Luau happened to fall on the same day as the WAR IX meet in Spokane, WA. Spokane is a five hour drive away from Lacey but more of a seven hour drive on Big Red (our university’s bus).  So there was absolutely no way that I would be able to make it back in time for Luau if I were to go to the meet. It was all so stressful.

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On Big Red with my teammates

The week leading up to the day, I was stressing out, crying, and trying to figure out how I would be able to do both events. I finally decided that I would have to go to the track meet because I was an athlete and I couldn’t miss a meet for a club event. I was upset. Luau and Hawaii club mean a lot to me, especially the people in this club and I felt that by skipping out on Luau meant that I was turning my back on my friends. It was rough. I called my parents Thursday night because I still didn’t know what I wanted to do and with their help they suggested that I could fly back to Seattle in order to get back in time for Luau. I was supposed to throw at 3pm on Saturday, catch a 5pm flight and hopefully get to Luau by 7pm.

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Giving my president speech at Luau

I guess someone was watching over me because although Saturday was a crazy stressful day, everything worked out perfectly when there were so many things that could have gone wrong. I threw at 12pm instead of 3pm and rushed to the airport, got on a flight at 1:45pm and was back at school before Luau even started at 4:20pm. I PR’d at my meet setting my record best and then got back to Luau to make my president’s speech and dance in the senior dance. Honestly, that day will probably go down as one of the most memorable days of my college career. This experience taught me that everything has a way of working itself out and you can only control so many things and the rest you have to leave up to God. Traveling with my team to Spokane was amazing and so much fun. Luau was spectacular bringing in over 500 people. It was truly a wonderful day and I wouldn’t have been able to do it all without the support from my teammates, coaches, club members, friends, and of course my parents. I’m always so thankful for all of my blessings.

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The next adventure

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Acceptance email 🙂

“What are you doing next year?” seems to be the common question among the graduating class of 2016 and when that question is asked, there seems to be either a calm and collected reaction or a stressed, almost on the verge of tears crying because either 1) they know where they are going or 2) they don’t. At first, every time someone asked me that question, I wanted to break down and cry because I was so nervous to tell people what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to go to law school but was hesitant to tell people that just in case I didn’t get in.  But I can now tell you, the horrible stress of waiting to see if I got into law school or not is gone.

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The Yuma building at AUWCL

That’s right! I got into the Washington College of Law at American University (AUWCL)! It’s already been a few weeks but it still doesn’t seem real. I remember waking up in the morning knowing that my decision was going to be sent out that day. I sat on my bed and prayed before I opened the email, knowing this decision was going to affect my life dramatically and knowing that God always has a plan. I started crying tears of joy after reading that I had gotten accepted. All of my hard work paid off and I will now be studying international law for the next three years in Washington, DC.

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View of the Washington monument from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

AUWCL seemed to be the perfect fit for me. I really want to get into international human rights law and AUWCL is known for the international law program.  They are ranked top 10 in the country for international work and their study abroad programs are phenomenal.  It’s also located right in the political hub of the country where there are so many opportunities for me to do internships and externships. I visited the campus during my time there in the summer and fell in love with it all. I knew that’s where I wanted to be. Again, I am always counting my blessings. I definitely would not be where I am today without the support of my friends, my family, and every one here at Saint Martin’s. I would never have even considered going to AUWCL if I hadn’t done my internship in DC and all of that was possible through the Washington State Legislature and of course Ann Adams in the Career Center. It’s going to be an incredible journey and although I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to leave SMU, I can’t wait for the future at the same time.

 

Getting back into it

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2016 Women’s Track & Field

Being physically exhausted, feeling like your lungs are going to burst because you can’t breathe from running so hard, the tightness of your muscles cramping as they start to tell you that they can’t go much longer but pushing through it all anyway.  The adrenaline, the motivation, the fire, this is what I missed and this is why I decided to join the SMU Women’s Track & Field team as a shot put thrower. It’s crazy, I know, and I still can’t believe I’m doing this most days.  It’s such a change from what I’m used to but it’s a nice change and I can’t even put into words how much I love it.  So how did this all come to be?

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 12.37.15 PMAs you may know, the reason I came to SMU was to play goalkeeper on the SMU Women’s Soccer team but after my first year, I decided to hang up the cleats because I found out that I tore my ACL for the third time at the end of the season. Since then, I have been focusing on my studies and have gotten extremely involved in everything here at the university.  I distracted myself because not being an athlete was extremely hard for me.  I have been playing sports since I was four years old and didn’t really know how life worked without being an athlete. I missed it. When I came back from DC, I started working out a lot but realized that I didn’t really have anything to work towards.  Of course you can always set your own personal fitness goals but I wanted to compete.  Why would I let not having an ACL stop me from doing what I love? I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome anything.

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Supporting our teammates at the UW Invitational

After talking to my friends on the track team about my thoughts, they all encouraged me to join. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I received from my peers and this experience showed me again how fortunate I am to have such amazing friends that I would not have made if I didn’t come to Saint Martin’s. I then talked to the head coach of the track & field team, Coach Jim Brewer, and he was also so enthusiastic about my decision. Ever since then, I have been training and working really hard. I have never thrown shot before so this whole experience is new to me but I love it so much. I love being a part of a team again and my teammates have been nothing but encouraging.  My coaches are willing to work with me if I am willing to work for them and I can’t wait to get out there and compete. It’s such a new experience and I’m so fortunate to be able to attend a university that helps me to pursue all of my passions.

The event of the year

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12028772_1012931698738932_567063282754313102_oThe Luau is probably the event on campus that I am always the most excited for because of the fact that for the past four years I have attended Saint Martin’s, I have always dedicated a lot of my time to make sure that this event runs smoothly.  I also love being able to share the Hawaiian culture with the Saint Martin’s community.  It’s such a fun event and every year I’m reminded of the family that I have made here at SMU.  This events hosts approximately 500-600 people every year and is put on by the SMU Hui ‘O Hawai’i that I was so fortunate to be elected president of this year. To say that I am excited for this year’s luau is an understatement.

11060044_10153225143623497_8882992562334055564_oSo what can someone expect from attending a Saint Martin’s Luau? Well, every year the club puts on an entire program lasting about an hour and a half filled with different Hawaiian hulas such as kahikos, auanas, and other polyneisian dances such as the haka. It’s a lot of work and the club typically starts dance practices at the end of February and continues to practice till the big day in April. We also provide our guests with traditional Hawaiian food such as kalua pig, lomi salmon, haupia, and chicken long rice that we cook by ourselves. Cooking food for 600 guests is a lot of work but we always manage to get it done. We also decorate Marcus Pavilion according to the theme of the year and manage all of the stage lighting.  We also have a keiki booth or children’s booth where the children can go and play games.  For those who love Hawaiian snacks and jewelry, we set up a country store every year so that guests can buy goodies to take home with them. We couldn’t do it without the support of our club members, our many donors, our families, and of course the SMU community.

12006133_1011957402169695_7207660949250213271_n“I Kani No Ka Pahu I Ka ‘Olohaka O Loko or It is the space inside that gives the drum a sound” is the theme of the 2016 Luau.  This year we wanted to exemplify that the foundation of our club is our members and our club would not be able to make the impact that it does without each and everyone of us. This year’s luau will take place on April 9th in Marcus Pavillion with doors opening at 5pm. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for SMU faculty and alumni, and $20 for the outside community. Tickets will start going on sale in the middle of February but if you would like to reserve your tickets or would like more information you can email our club secretary Shannon Ishikawa at Shannon.Ishikawa@stmartin.edu. Reserve your tickets before they sell out! I can’t wait to be apart of this amazing event for the last time.  We hope to see you all there!

Just Breathe

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Hiking is one of my favorite things to do especially when I’m stressed.

Life can be extremely stressful especially when you’re trying to balance three jobs, being the president of a club, going to conferences, applying to law schools, completing your senior thesis, balancing 18 credits, and also trying to maintain somewhat of a social life. Recently, with the imminent stress of the wonderful senior year upon us, many people have asked me, “How do you stay sane?” Which is such a funny question because I feel like senior year is making me go crazy but through the millions of cups of coffee, all-nighters, and endless amounts of crying myself to sleep (just kidding lol), I always seem to get everything done. So how do I do it?

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Adventuring in nature with friends always calms me when I feel overwhelmed

The key is to always find time for yourself. That can seem hard especially when you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done but I always set time aside to just relax. Whether that be staying home, listening to music, drinking tea, and reading a book, or hanging out with friends, going on a walk in nature, swimming or even just sleeping for an entire afternoon. It’s so important to calm your mind and just take time to focus on yourself. In correlation with that, I always set time aside to just be productive. I know that if I have a set amount of time to get things done and also to relax, I always find that during the time I’m supposed to be working I actually get a lot more done than if I were to take no breaks.

 

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My support system, my purpose, my family ❤

Also, another one of the most important things to remember when you feel like you’re drowning in the treacherous oceans of life is to just breathe. I always try to take deep breaths and remind myself why I’m here and what my goals are. I always remind myself that although life can be extremely overwhelming, it’s still a really good life and I have so much to be thankful for. Somehow that always calms me down because it makes it feel like everything that I am doing has purpose.  To be in college working towards my dreams is truly a blessing and when everything seems like its too much, I tend to forget how extremely blessed I am. It’s always humbling to be able to look around and realize how many people are routing for me to succeed and that’s how I get through it all. Remind yourself that it may be a bad day or a bad week but it’s not a bad life and you’ll always be able to get through it.

My home away from home

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The crew freshman year supporting the SMU women’s volleyball team

As a freshman, adjusting to leaving my family and moving thousands of miles away from home was really tough. I didn’t realize how different it is living in Washington versus Hawaii, the people, the food, the weather, all of it was a lot to take in. Now being a senior, looking back I asked myself, what helped me make those adjustments? My friends and Hui ‘O Hawai’i or Hawaii Club were definitely the two things that helped to make my adjustment to a new life easier.

I started off as a regular member, attending every event and helping out in any way possible. I loved being involved in this club from the very beginning because it made me feel like I belonged somewhere. All of these other students knew what it was like to move so far from home and deal with the culture shock. The older students from Hawaii definitely took me under their wing and made my life so much easier doing simple things for me like taking me to get groceries because I didn’t have a car or taking me to L&L so that I could get a little taste of home.

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Our first Ho’olaule’a with friends Kaelen Hirashiki, Mikel Smith, and Shayne Kurihara

My sophomore year I decided to run for a board position and ended up getting elected as Secretary and Luau Advertisement Chair. It was an honor to be elected for two positions as an underclassman and it made Hawaii Club that much more important to me. I love being able to spread our culture to the Saint Martin’s community and being on the board I definitely felt like I had more of a say in what and how we did things as a club.

Junior year, I was reelected as secretary and being an upperclassmen put me in the position to help the incoming Hawaii kids who dealt with the same things that I had to deal with as a freshman and I loved acting as a mentor to those students. Having other people look up to me and come to me when they needed help or to just talk made me feel like I was making a difference in their lives and that was just such an amazing experience.

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Ho’olaule’a 2015

Now as a senior, I was elected to be the President of Hawaii club and I couldn’t be more excited and proud to be voted into this position by my peers. I love Hawaii club so much and it has been such a big part of my college experience. College can seem scary at times but I think Saint Martin’s has given every student the opportunity to find others who either have the same interests as you or are connected to you in some way, shape, or form. Hawaii Club was definitely the place where I felt like I could be myself and knowing that, I want to make sure that others can come to Hawaii Club to feel like they belong no matter if they are from Hawaii or not. It can be extremely time consuming and sometimes being the president of such a large club makes me want to break down and cry but then I think about my experience as a freshman and how much this club helped me get through college and it reminds me just how important this small community is and it makes everything that I’m doing worth it.

STUDENT HOST?! SAY WHAT?!

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At the 2014 Gala with best friend Karissa Radke

The fact that Gala is in less than three weeks is mind boggling! This being my second year as a social squad member, I have only attended one other gala and it was honestly, so much fun.  I love gala. Being able to dress up all fancy and see everyone all dressed up is probably my favorite part about the whole event.  Last year, I was able to go into the reception and take pictures and also go into the actual event and tweet the entire time so that everyone who couldn’t be at the event could follow the live tweets from home. I got to go on stage with Lidia Bastianich and try some of the delicious food that was made. It was extremely stressful and high paced but such an incredible experience at the same time.

This year is going to be even better. Why you may ask? Because my fellow Social Squad member Christine Towey and I have been chosen to be this year’s student hosts! We get to go host the cast of The Chew, what could be cooler than that? I hope you all are prepared for the endless amounts of pictures and selfies that are going to be taken with these famous chefs. I seriously can’t believe that I have been given this opportunity. What a way to end off my last gala here at SMU. This is just one more great memory that I will have from my last year here and I couldn’t be more excited.

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Selfie with the President’s wife, Kathleen Heynderickx and Jeneva Burton

Gala is definitely one of my favorite school events solely because of the fact that this event by itself helps so many students be
able to come to this wonderful institution. Without this fundraiser some students wouldn’t be able to call SMU home and I am so thankful that people care and think that education is important enough to donate so much money to the cause. Last year definitely opened my eyes, seeing people donating so much money brought me to tears especially being a scholarship recipient. Everyone who helps out with this event, the volunteers, the donors, the chefs makes a difference in the lives of so many students and I couldn’t be more thankful to go to an institution who cares so much about giving people the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. It’s going to be an amazing event and I’m shaking with excitement!

The 4th and final year

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With my grandmother at my high school graduation. Can’t believe this year it will be my college graduation!

The day that I left for college, I was at the airport crying my eyes out with the realization that I wouldn’t be seeing my family for four months. Everything that I knew, I was leaving behind that day and although I didn’t know it at the time, I was about to embark on one of the biggest adventures of my life. My grandmother told me as I was walking to the security checkpoint, wiping the tears from eyes, to blink my eyes and I’ll be home. She always tells me that we are growing up way too fast and that every time she blinks her eyes, we have grown more and more with each blink. Although that moment feels like it was just yesterday, that happened three years ago. Where has the time gone?

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Our first day of school picture freshman year

I have changed dramatically since my freshman year of college and have learned so many things.  Just to name a few, I have learned:

  • How to live on my own and what it’s like to not have my parents around all the time.
  • With more independence comes more responsibility.
  • Sometimes you don’t always make the best decisions and you have to pay for the consequences.
  • But when you do make the right decisions, the rewards are great.
  • Sometimes people walk out of your life in order for better people to walk in.
  • In Washington state, you have to dress for two different types of weather on a daily basis.
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    Last day of school picture from Freshman year

    Just because it’s sunny outside does not mean that you wear shorts and a tank top to school.

  • Sometimes the path you think you should take is not always the path that you will take and you have to be flexible.
  • 8 a.m. classes are not for me but neither are 7 p.m. classes.
  • I thrive off of a busy schedule and am constantly planning my next move.
  • Life has a funny way of always working out for the best.

I’ve learned so much being here and these are just some of the things that have helped to shape me into the person that I am today.

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Our first day of school picture of senior year

Senior year. I can’t believe that I only have one more year here in this beautiful place. This is going to be the best one yet. I’m going to focus on school and what comes after undergraduate. Right now, I am planning to apply to law schools on the east coast but that could change at any moment. I’m going to focus on enjoying Washington as much as possible. I don’t know if I will end up here in Washington or some place else but I plan on enjoying the rest of my time here. And lastly, I’m going to focus on my friends. The people who have been there for me since the first day I walked into Parsons Hall and have been through this crazy journey of undergrad with me. Before I know it, I’m going to be walking onto the stage to receive my diploma but for right now I’m trying to live in the moment and blink as little as possible.

What comes next?

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My best friends from Hawaii and I in front of the Capitol Building

DC was incredible. I don’t think there are enough words to describe how amazing of an experience it was. I learned so much, more than I would if I were in school and it’s crazy, just how much you you grow and learn about yourself when you take advantage of opportunities such as these ones. I am forever grateful for everyone who helped me get to where I am today such as those in the Career Center and the Washington State Legislature. I’ve learned that you never know where life is going to take you but you just need to work hard and realize that opportunities will arise. People will recognize your hard work and reward you and this experience was definitely one of the best.

Being in DC and the east coast in general, I realized how many opportunities there are for just about anyone. Being from Hawaii and going to school in Lacey, I’ve never lived in a big city before. I’ve always stuck to what I know and have always been comfortable living in a small town where I virtually know everyone. Living in the city I had to grow up. I had to figure out the metro system and how to get places without using a car, or learn to walk faster than I have ever walked in my life. You learn about the bad areas of the neighborhood that you can’t get lost in and learn that everyone has their own agenda. It’s a different culture and I definitely had to learn how to fend for myself. In big cities like DC or New York, you either make it or you don’t. It’s a harsh and stressful place to live in but if you end up making it, it’s all worth it.

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Visiting the United Nations Headquarters in NYC

I think the most exciting thing that happened in DC was the fact that I think I figured out what I want to do with my life after college. Of course I will probably change my mind tomorrow but for right now I think I have it figure out. I wanted to mix my love for politics, law, international work, and helping people all in one job and I believe that ultimately working in international development would be the most amazing thing. My ultimate dream would be to work for the United Nations one day. But first, I need to get into law school but one step at a time. I wouldn’t have even thought about taking this route with my life if it weren’t for my experience in DC. Life is happening. I started my senior year and I can’t believe this will be my last year here in this wonderful place. I love it here at Saint Martin’s but DC has made me realize that there is so much more out there for me that needs to be explored. I can’t wait for what comes next and I’m so thankful for everything that has passed.