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Veterans of Hawaii Scholarship

Just Published
6 winners, $500 each
Application Deadline
Sep 25, 2024
Winners Announced
Oct 25, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Veteran or the child of a veteran

Veterans are often met with many obstacles when returning home from service, making it difficult to attain an education.

Between physical injuries, homelessness, or unemployment, it can be difficult for veterans or their children to afford college. In order to thank veterans for their service and to allow them to seize opportunities for their future, it’s critical that veterans receive the resources they need.

This scholarship seeks to support veterans and the children of veterans who are pursuing higher education.

Any current student who is a veteran or the child of a veteran and is attending school in Hawaii may apply for this scholarship. 

To apply, tell us how the military has impacted you or your family.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published June 22, 2024
Essay Topic

Please share how the military has impacted you or your family?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Katlyn Darling
Hawaii Pacific UniversityHonolulu, HI
Mighty Mouse's Journey: From Waffle House to 5th Special Forces Group I'm Katlyn Darling, but those who know me call me "Mighty Mouse." It's a nickname I earned not from my petite stature, but from the hefty punch of determination I pack. I haven't always been this strong, nor this mighty. It's a story that began in a Waffle House, took a detour through Jordan and SYria, and now finds its way to Hawaii, as I pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Hawaii Pacific University. Born into a family that knew hardship too well. I grew up with three sisters and parents who struggled financially and often grappled with homelessness and putting food on the table. I always knew I was destined for more. The path, however, was a mystery. That was until one fateful day when, as a 20-year-old waitress at Waffle House, I watched the news report of an American journalist abducted and brutally slain by the Taliban. I was shaken to my core. It ignited within me a fiery determination to serve my country and make a difference. I ran to the nearest US Army recruiting station and told the recruiter "I want to be on my way to the Army in two weeks. Can we do this?" Of course, he was delighted to so easily meet his quota and obliged. I then told him I wanted to "go infantry" and be sent to Afghanistan right away. Seeing this 5'1" young woman, at a hundred pounds soaking wet, eager to be an infantry soldier must have been very humorous to the Ranger regiment E6 sergeant. It is for me thinking back. But my seriousness (and GT score) won him over. Being 2014, infantry was not allowed for women at the time. "Well, what can I do with guns? And jumping out of airplanes?" I was steered into a path that was a better fit - becoming a Small Arms/Artillery Repairer with airborne distinction. The next chapter of my life unfurled at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, home to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Still running on the adrenaline of airborne school, with my subdued black metal wings displayed proudly on my chest, I was eager to prove my worth. My small frame often posed challenges, especially when handling weighty M2A1 50 cal barrels. But my response was always the same – "let me do it myself." I knew I had to figure it out, not just for myself, but for those I'd be serving alongside on the battlefield. The experience of working with the Green Berets, some of the most elite soldiers in the world, is something that fills me with immense pride and gratitude. The friendships I forged, the mission we accomplished, the lessons I learned - they all made me who I am today. The "mighty mouse" who once stood her ground at Fort Campbell is now channeling her energy and passion into her studies, her family, and her entrepreneurial ventures. As a veteran, the military has not only shaped me but also given me a sense of purpose and direction. The military gave me a reset button. I could be whoever I wanted to be, who I was destined to be. I'm just Might Mouse, a girl who started from humble beginnings, faced adversity head-on, served her country with determination, and is now committed to making a difference in healthcare. The journey has been incredible, and I can't wait to see what the next chapter brings.
Evelyn Utai
Chaminade University of HonoluluKaneohe, HI
"Marines don't know how to spell defeat." These words echoed through my entire childhood as a daughter of a Marine. Being a daughter to a marine is one thing, but being a daughter of a Samoan Marine now that is a lifetime mission that I did not sign up for. When I was growing up my sisters and I were not playing with our barbies and pushing them around in their convertable around the doll house; nope we were pushing around tires at an automotive shop and we were changing oils, sanding down cars getting them ready for the paint job, we were shoveling dirt and planting taro's to harvest in nine months for food on our table. So how has the miliary helped me you may ask? The military trained my dad, "Once a marine always a marine" and in doing so my dad wanted to know that we would not need help from a random stranger should we run into any situation, but that we were the ones offering aid to those who may need assistance. First one in to the war and last one in he would share with us. The marines has changed my dad to understand that freedom is never free. We will never be the home of free, but we are definitely the home of the brave. He is a Marine veteran who spent his times working on helicopters and airplanes as a mechanic. My dad was one of the first helicopter pilots in the Marines and he was so proud. After his injury in the Marines and he was placed on leave there was something different for awhile with my dad. He was looking for his purpose and he was just wondering what to do. I was grateful that he raised us as Marines, becasue as much as my dad did for us we had to remind him of the amazing individual he is by letting him know, "Marines don't know how to spell defeat dad." Since then my dad has found his purpose in returning back home to our beautiful island of Samoa where he continues working on aircrafts, but his passion is giving back to the land that we call home. Because we were taught at a young age that Marines don't know how to spell defeat we were able to remind our dad that defeat is not in his vocabulary and there is a purpose out there for him. Thank you to the Marines for caring and molding an amazing young man that turned out to by my old man. He has taught me how to be strong, independent and how to love my country.
taylor banaag
King Kekaulike High SchoolHaiku-Pauwela, HI
Being a child of a veteran has had a huge impact on my life, bringing both advantages and challenges. The sacrifices my father makes in service to our country are commendable, however they also come at a cost. Our family has experienced the trials of his frequent six-month deployments, which can be tough on all of us. Recently, with the addition of a new baby to our family, his absence feels even more significant, causing him to miss out on important milestones. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest advantages of having a veteran as a parent is the sense of pride and honor that comes with knowing they are dedicated to protecting our nation's values. Growing up with stories of valor, courage, and sacrifice has instilled in me a deep respect for those who wear the uniform. It has also shaped my perspective on patriotism and the importance of serving others. Witnessing the selflessness of my parent's commitment has strengthened my character and taught me to appreciate the sacrifices made for the greater good. However, amongst the pride, there are definite cons to this journey, particularly during the extended periods of deployment. Our family bears the burden of separation as my father fulfills his duty far away from home. This distance creates emotional strain, as he misses crucial moments in our lives, such as witnessing our milestones. From my high school graduation to my 16th birthday, and soon my 18th, his absence casts a shadow over significant events, leaving a void that cannot be easily filled. Furthermore, with the recent arrival of a new baby in our family, the impact of my father's absence has become even more pronounced. He longs to be present during the formative years of his youngest child's life, but his responsibilities often restrict him from experiencing the joys and challenges of parenthood in real time. Despite these hardships, being a child of a veteran has taught me valuable lessons in resilience and strength. The ever-changing nature of family life during deployments has emphasized the importance of flexibility and adaptability. It has also fostered a strong support system within our family, as we lean on each other to navigate the challenges that come with our father's absence. As a result, this experience has deepened my gratitude for the time we do get to spend together as a family. When my father returns from his deployments, the joy and appreciation for his presence are amplified, and we seize every moment to create lasting memories. In conclusion, being a child of a veteran comes with its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. The pride I feel in having a parent who serves our country is immeasurable, and it has instilled in me a profound respect for service and sacrifice. However, the extended periods of separation during deployments present emotional challenges, especially when my father misses important milestones in our lives. Despite the difficulties, this journey has taught me resilience, strength, and appreciation, as we learn to cherish the moments we have together as a family. As a child of a veteran, I am continuously inspired by my father's commitment and bravery, and I am determined to make him proud as I navigate life's journey.
Hope Ulufanua
Hawaii Pacific UniversityEwa Beach, HI
In the passport of my life, you will find pages marked by stamps in the shape of state flowers. The California Poppy, the Violet, the American Beauty, and the Yellow Hibiscus. Four different flowers shine brightly on their respective page, illuminating my adolescence spent in several cities and states. At a very young age, I was introduced to this sporadic lifestyle, having lived in CA, NJ, and DC to name a few. Being the daughter of two Navy Veterans, I was able to experience so many different cultures and communities that ultimately influenced my love for travel. Growing up, I heard the stories my parents told me of their voyages in the navy (and it made our lifestyle seem so typical), with their time overseas in places like Korea, Iraq, and Japan. It was through those experiences that my parents realized how important it was to learn about new cultures and communities and instilled that same value in my brothers and me. As we moved around, we were able to witness the inauguration of President Obama and the opening of the MLK monument, we visited multiple national parks, voyaged four of the seven seas, and even more. As I approach my second year at Hawaii Pacific University, I look forward to studying abroad in London and learning in classrooms that take place in art museums or pivotal cities within our world’s history. With the influence and fond memories during their time in the Navy, my parents instilled in me the importance of exploring the world, of seeking education in more than just textbooks. In my most recent voyage, I flew across the Pacific to the beautiful coasts of Melbourne, Australia, there I was able to experience a culture so similar but so different at the same time. The main thing I was in awe of during my time ‘down under’ was the constant individual efforts to push for a more sustainable society. From their continuous reminders to recycle and compost to their conscious decisions to more meatless diets, many of the population there had supported this lifestyle to make their environment cleaner. Although I had done most of this before, I had decided to take extra steps (no matter how small) to reduce my footprint, for example unplugging things that I am not using at the moment or replacing the bottled water with Brita filters. From my experience abroad, I took home with me some of the lifestyle choices that had been implemented during my time there to make a more positive impact in my household. My love and passion for travel and experiencing new cultures began long before I was born. It started when my parents decided they wanted to serve their country and protect their home by enlisting in the Navy. Their experiences created stories and adventures that were reiterated to me in my childhood, in doing so my dreams of doing something similar have stayed true since I was small. As an aspiring journalist/author, I want to write about my experiences abroad and inspire others in the same way my parents inspired me. Therefore, the military has, through my parents, brought me closer to my greatest passion, traveling, and connected me to cultures and communities from around the world.
Brittany Johnson
Chaminade University of HonoluluAiea, HI
As I take the time to reflect on the life events that have brought me to Hawaii, the majority of it was influenced by the military. I often giggle when someone asks me, “Where are you from”. I hardly know how to respond at times. “Military Brats” oftentimes don’t know how to answer that question. The beauty within the struggle of moving every 4 years, is that I felt as if I had mini families, all around the country. Now I can spot military housing and haircuts from a mile away. It's funny to think of it now, military bases are sort of designed so you don’t have to leave. It’s a weird, yet insightful conundrum because I have seen more of the world in comparison to those within my close friend group. The military gives something to not only the service member but also to their families. I was born in Frankfurt, Germany, which was my mother’s favorite duty station. I don’t remember much from that place, other than my mother saying that it was super cold. My mother had met my father while serving in the Army, but unfortunately, things didn’t work out. My mother found out she was having twins and entered into the journey of single motherhood. Without funding from the military, I believe that we would have been impoverished. She had come from poverty growing up, and stated that “she would never let us suffer as she did”. I am forever grateful to the military for allowing my mother to show us what financial stability meant. At the age of 6, we moved to Michigan, where my mother had served at a naval base. I remember making monthly trips to the commissary, which was an hour away from our home. We had a small budget for the family, so I would often be reminded not to “eat all of the snacks at the beginning of the month”. My sister and I were often involved in MWR youth activities after school, most of the kids were military-related. My childhood friends and I would talk about which duty stations we had been to, and cry over whoever was coming next. Unbeknownst to me, I had learned the importance of comradery at a young age. Later on during my teenage years, we moved to Columbia, South Carolina. This station was most memorable because I got my first job as a commissary bagger. I was earning cash tips and felt a sense of responsibility because my mom finally let me pay for my cell phone bill. I learned how to budget quickly because my mom let me feel what “broke” felt like. I did as teenagers do, and spent my little change on frivolous things. My mother shared her stories of how she obtained financial freedom through the military, amongst other benefits that came with it. The military gave my family a sense of meaning and purpose, that my mother never experienced growing up. My sister and I were afforded various opportunities that would not have been possible, without military affiliation. At the young age of 17, my sister would go on to join the Marine Corps, while I went away to the Air Force. We would often call each and discussed our shared experiences from boot camp and lessons learned during deployments. At the age of 32, we have both exited the military, and both serve in the healthcare sector now. The military gave my family a second chance at life and a sense of pride that we can take anywhere.
Sebastian Rojas
Kailua High SchoolKailua, HI
Megan Casey
Chaminade University of HonoluluPearl City, HI
Sitting here reflecting on the military’s impact on my family has made me realize that it has been a driving force in my life since its very beginning. My parents and eventually, my military service have all guided me throughout my life and have been invisible protagonists in nearly all the major events I’ve lived through. I believe that this is not an uncommon experience amongst military “brats” and service members. The decision to join the United States military completely overhauls one’s lifestyle and can affect relationships with immediate and extended family. My story is one of the millions of examples of this commonality. My mother and father met while enlisted in the army. They both originally came from small towns and sought a stable career in which their merit and hard work paid off. They were both stationed on Oahu, Hawai’i, an island whose large military presence greatly affects even the civilian community. Not long after my birth, my mother decided that she would not renew her enlistment and dedicate herself to my upbringing. My father, still serving, bought our home, with the help of VA benefits, and that’s where I spent the bulk of my childhood. Unfortunately, they divorced when I was a child, and my father moved off the island where he was eventually promoted to officer status. He was stationed in the Pentagon, an accomplishment that brought me and much of my paternal family an immense amount of pride. That pride would turn into our biggest nightmare on a September morning in 2001 when a plane crashed into his workplace. I learned about the incident the morning of. I remember going to school that morning, the morning after my 10th birthday, when another kid ran up to me and said, “Your dad works in the Pentagon, right?”, to which I affirmed. He then, with the complete lack of tact that could only come from a child, blurted out, “Did you see the news? It just blew up!”. I refused to believe it until I entered my classroom, and my teacher quickly approached me and told me I needed to go to the counselor’s office. I, along with my sister, was told we were allowed to go home and be with our family until we received news of my father’s state. We didn’t hear anything about my father’s status for the longest two days of my life. Fortunately, he survived unscathed and the lack of communication was due to him not being able to share information about what was happening, but it was at this point that I realized that being in the military was more than just a mere job. Being a veteran is something that places you in the middle of major world events. You become a part of something greater than yourself and join a corpus that can influence the direction economics, politics, and culture go over the years to come. It is something that can cost you your life, or place you in a situation where your actions can save the lives of countless others. My father’s military service placed him in an incredibly impactful situation, not only for himself or even my family but for the world at large.
Trident University InternationalEwa Beach, HI
I think the military is a volunteer opportunity of a lifetime. You learn how to be a soldier, but in the context of being a soldier, you learn many life lessons like discipline, loyalty, duty, responsibility, respect, selfless service, humility, honor, integrity, and personal courage just to name a few. Although you learn these essential acts of character, you meet people who, no matter what situation you are in, will have you and your family back through thick and thin. In 15 years of service, the military has impacted my life mentally, physically, professionally, and personally. Mentally the military has given me the strength to believe in myself and in accomplishing goals. The military has taught me how to face tough situations and make calculated decisions. Physically the military has made me age but I'm fortunate to be an airborne air assault trooper with no injuries. A little tendonitis here and there, but it comes with the overuse of the body. Professionally I have obtained my bachelor's in science and two master's degrees at the top of my class. The unfortunate thing about the military is that the military does not give any tuition assistance for doctorate or Ph.D. students. Personally, the military has taught me how to value family spending so much time away from family makes me miss them more. Personally, I have learned to understand what sacrifice means. The military has impacted my life in many ways but the military has also impacted my family. My family has always been here to support me and through my dedication and hard work my family can pick up on the morals and lessons that I learned. By being transparent with my family they are growing and thriving as citizens of society. When they see me work all day and study until I fall asleep, crash from exhausting workouts, or spend countless months away so that others can be free, it builds pride and dignity and makes everything that I do worth it. After my 20 years of service, I am hoping to transition out of the military in hopes of doing something that would be productive to society but also try to be an intricate part of my family life after so many years of being constantly on the go and leaving at the sound of a whistle. This is why education is so important to me and my family. I would never tell my kids to do something that I would not do. That is why the last five years I have been in pursuit of a dream to obtain my doctorate degree which will become a reality in December '23. The biggest obstacle in life is ourselves. The mind is the most powerful tool in the body.
Emmeline Snellings
Leeward Community CollegeEwa Beach, HI
Kalea Kuamoo
Kamehameha Schools: Hawaii CampusHilo, HI
My dad is my hero, for more than one reason. He has been my greatest supporter for as long as I could remember, he constantly tries his best to give me and my family everything that he never had growing up. This man is one of the most respected people I've known for the entirety of my life, so when I found out that he had enlisted into the marines when he was younger it was no shock. My father had a tough upbringing, his home life was not the best, much like every other Hawaii kid. However, he did not let his rough upbringing affect how his future would unfold. My father enrolled in boot camp at the age of 18 but later joined the marines in July of 1995. He had served four honorable years in the marines as a motor transport operator. He had driven the big trucks, hummers, dirt bikes, and buses. He did this up until he resigned in July of 1999 due to my mother's third pregnancy. When my dad first entered the marines he had one daughter, my older sister Loke. Eventually, I came along while he was enlisted, lastly, my younger sister, Maile came into the family. This was a clear sign that it was time for my dad to come home and help support my mom. He sacrificed his military enlistment for his family, something that not many men can do. However, he was not done serving his country or his home. Soon he became a police officer for the county of Hawai’i. For the last 11 years and 8 months, he has been serving the island of Hawaii and its people. He is not just officer Kuamo’o or “PINEAPPLE” as his drill sergeants know him, but he is one of the most selfless people I know. Due to his military and police background, we as a family have a certain standard for ourselves. My dad has standards for his daughters. We must be respectful and honest, this is essential if you are living in our household. He has raised us to always stand up for what we believe to be right, even if we are standing alone, and to always respect those who have come before us. One of my dad's favorite things to do is tell us stories of his time as a marine, lessons or events that happened to him that he can now use as lessons for his daughters, although I and my sisters just take it as a way for him to brag that he was a “well-respected soldier” as he would put it. He takes pride in telling us these stories and life tips, although he's even more proud when it actually comes to play in our own lives. My dad has groomed his daughters to be respectful, smart, and strong individuals who have no fear in what they believe in, he encourages us the speak our minds and to always do what is right, even if others believe it is wrong. Roland Ali’iloa Kuamo’o has affected my family in the best way possible, and we are proud to be a military family.
Dezarey Arredondo
University of Hawaii at ManoaEwa Beach, HI
My parents divorced because of the military, that changed my life forever. My mother and father met because of the military, my father was apart of the Army branch and in 2005 I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii at Tripler Hospital. I do not remember too much of my childhood, but them getting a divorce forced my sister and to live a sporadic life, we moved from house to house and we did not know what was coming at us next. I always thought it was a competition between my parents, which one was the better caretaker, which one of them showed me love more, and it tore my relationship with both of my parents apart. And that is why the military changed my life. I was about five when my parents divorced, my sister, about 2 years old. Immediately after, we had to live with my dad. From what I observed, he was looking for a woman to repair his heartbreak, and possibly to care for my sister and I. He tried his best to care for us even if he did not know much about girls and how to properly care for us. Looking back, I regret not doing more to show my love to him and let him know he was doing his best. However, when I was about 12 I moved with my dad, stepmom and my new baby and brother. When I did she was in her post partum stage and was struggling with having a baby and depression, and the way she and my dad showed more love to my new siblings worried and frustrated me. I grew to resent them all and even hated my stepmom for a while. I moved back to Hawaii with my mom and stepdad. Moving back to Hawaii was a great decision, I was happier, had more privacy, and was receiving more love. I was loving this new environment and especially enjoyed receiving attention and love from my parents. Living with my mom made our relationship stronger and I bonded with my mom on an extreme level. To this day I live with my mom and our relationship has improved extremely. I can tell her anything I go through and expect support in the end. Although she is concerned with what I am up to all hours of the day, all days of the week, she is comparable to a best friend and she loves me tenderly. Although having divorced parents is difficult, with having to keep in touch with my dad with a busy life, time differences, and struggling to come to terms with that my mom and dad have different parenting styles and different ways of living. Although I do prefer my moms life style because of her cleanliness and loving personality, I will always love my dad and be thankful for his love and sacrifices he made for me as a child. Thanks to the military, my dad met my mom in Hawaii, and I am now alive and living well because of a military assignment in 2000 and have loving, parents, as a result. I have a wonderful life with new family members and an improved mindset. I am working towards a successful life to repay what my parents have done for me. Thanks to the military, I am able to do that for them.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Sep 25, 2024. Winners will be announced on Oct 25, 2024.