This entry marks the first in ASH’s “Student Spotlight” series, a set of interviews with current students in our program. One of the pleasures of meeting the students is appreciating the differences and similarities in their backgrounds and getting a glimpse of their life here in Honolulu.
Student Spotlight I
Pristine campus, 3rd best college dining experience in the country, picturesque ocean front town, really nice dorms: University of Hawaii? Actually that’s how Keith Doucot, Kenny Ermann, and Daren Swenson describe their home college, Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. Yet they left all that behind to come to UH for a semester. Kenny found out about the ASH program on Facebook and invited his cohorts to come along. When asked how he persuaded them to apply, Daren and Keith agreed it didn’t take too much to convince them.
Kenny said the ASH program is a great way to experience one of the many diverse regions in the United States and a chance to enjoy a tropical climate. Last year he ventured to the deep south, to Valdosta, Georgia, with Habitat for Humanity, building homes and experiencing firsthand that famed Southern hospitality and cooking. Hawai‘i adds another dimension to his “See America” endeavor. French speaker and marketing major Daren has traveled more broadly, visiting France, Belgium, Austria, and the Caribbean. When asked why he decided to come to UH in the ASH program he replied, “Well…it’s Hawai‘i,” a statement that’s simple, but loaded with meaning. This semester is Keith’s very first foray out of New England (excluding a Disney World trip), and his eyes brightened up when asked about being away. His expression at that moment spoke more than his words.
These three guys have been in school at UH for 3 weeks, but their list of completed outings is already impressive: picturesque Waimea Bay, secluded Halona Beach Cove, refreshing Wa‘ahila Ridge Trail, snorkeling at nearby Magic Island, the popular Honolulu Flea Market, a weekend trip to the island of Kauai, to name a few. Keith has already finished his scuba diving certification, and Daren and Kenny plan to get certified later in the semester. They’ve also purchased season tickets to the Polynesian Cultural Center and are planning a trip to the Big Island in December.
But a semester in Hawai‘i is more than beaches and sunsets. These students do all the adventures, and they have part time jobs and take full class loads (or overloads). Keith explained that it was overwhelming to sift through the huge UH course catalog and decide what to take, but his diligence paid off. One of his classes, “The Ocean Economy”, a course not offered at Roger Williams, is specific and specialized, but satisfies requirements for both of his minors, sustainability and economics. Keith’s major is construction management. Kenny has loaded up with 18 credits (6 more than a full load), and his schedule of 6 classes also includes “The Ocean Economy”. Kenny explained how he’s learned about isolationism in an environment like Hawai‘i and its potential for sustainability. His major is also construction management with an interest in environmental sciences. Daren is cruising through senior year with classes in French, anthropology and photography. He’s also an RA at one of the residence halls and maintains a very high GPA. Whoever said young people are not what they used to be hasn’t met these guys. They are polite and motivated. They work hard, get out there, and crave to do more. “It’s all what you make it,” Kenny says, which seems pretty wise for someone just 19 years old.