Maui Filipino-American Youth Scholars Join Leadership Cohort
Recently, I attended the 2023 Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s (MFCCF) scholarship award celebration to honor and recognize the achievements of nineteen deserving Maui Filipino-American youth scholars. Each scholar received a $1,000 scholarship for remarkable scholastic achievement and community involvement. This year’s college bound recipients plan to pursue degrees in a variety of disciplines and interests, such as business and finance, design, engineering, healthcare, hospitality, science and much more. As they shared their plans during the awards ceremony, we learned what molded them into the persons they are today are their reverence for and being proud of their Filipino culture. I am so encouraged by the tremendous talents of Maui’s Filipino American youth.
We need to be mindful and always be reminded high grades alone are not everything; what is more important is what one does with his or her educational achievements—for the good of others, for the betterment of all—to be a change agent that will make a positive long-term impact on our community.
As a follow-up to the scholarship award ceremony, a leadership cohort was initiated to further train and encourage the scholars to be immersed in the Filipino culture and to internalize the leadership skills to help them in their college endeavors. “Cohort” is defined in the Webster College Dictionary as “a group of persons sharing a particular statistical or demographic characteristic” which in this case is being a 2023 MFCCF scholarship awardee. This cohort for the scholars, which is a long time in coming, is currently led by Dr. Jasmine Therese Esguerra, one of the leaders of the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce. According to Dr. Esguerra, to date, four of the awardees have signed to participate in the eight-week training program which will include public speaking, Philippine dance and music, Tagalog and Ilokano dialects, vision and goal setting, health and wellness, introduction to financial literacy and more.
One of the cohort participants, Kailani Ibanez, shares her thoughts about being part of the training program, saying, “As a Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce scholar, I’ve been immersed in my culture and personal goal-building skills with a group of Filipino leaders who are committed to helping me and my peers succeed. Since the day I received the acceptance letter, I’ve been reminded daily of how lucky I am to come from such a supportive island and ethnic community. Not only has having community mentors helped prepare me for the financial aspects of college, but it’s also helped me cultivate strength within myself that will be my guide for the next year.” Kailani plans to attend Seattle University in the fall to pursue a degree in Liberal Arts.
Another cohort participant, Jansen Aceret, is extremely honored to join the program and said in part, “As a young adult, this opportunity will allow me to expand my horizons in improving my skills. In the next eight weeks of the program, my fellow cohorts and I immerse ourselves in the five pillars of one’s being: physical health, personal development, relationships, and spirit. My goals for this program include improving my sleep quality, building a $500 emergency fund, joining a hula hālau, improving my relationships with friends and feeling more present in my everyday life. I also look forward to amplifying my network and meeting possible mentors, as well as future employers with the help of our cohort leader.” Jansen is currently attending the University of Hawai‘i-Maui College, pursuing a degree in nursing.
With all these talents of our own Maui Filipino-American youth, it gives me confidence our future on our island home will be in the capable hands of our next generation of leaders. Let us continue to encourage, guide and support them as they pursue their chosen professions that will bring honor to our Filipino culture. Magkaisa Tayong Lahat … We are better together … Mabuhay!