VIDEO: Imi Ho`ōla celebrates nine who have completed one journey; will soon begin another

The University of Hawai`i’s John A. Burns School of Medicine Imi Ho`ōla Post Baccalaureate Program celebrated on June 13, 2012 as nine students completed the intensive, one-year program which is sometimes referred to as a “boot camp” for medical school. Promising college graduates from disadvantaged or underserved backgrounds are nutured – but also challenged. By completing the arduous course, the nine have earned a space in the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) MD Class of 2016. Imi Ho`ōla  means “those who seek to heal.”

{Hawaiian chant}

If history holds, one or more of these future doctors will rise to the top of the medical field.

Dean Jerris Hedges says graduates of the Imi Ho`ōla Post Baccalaureate program include a director of health, and a CMO at Queen’s.

{Speaking} Jerris Hedges, Dean: “Students from Imi Ho`ōla Program have been leaders not only in their class throughout their medical school careers but subsequently, in the community as they practice to give back to our state.”

{Speaking} “I’m Dee-Ann Carpenter…”

They also include some faculty now teaching here at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

{Speaking} “And I’m Kelley Ann, 1993.”

For the students, an intensive year of preparation for medical school is now behind them. But just ask the Imi alumni: it never leaves them.

{Speaking} Dr. Mailia-Susanne Lee, Imi Ho`ōla graduate and President of the Friends of Imi Ho`ōla: There are so many skills you have to have to become a doctor. Just to be able to walk into a room to meet people you’ve never met before. To learn all about a disease you’ve never encountered before.”

{Speaking} Dr. Wilffred Alik, Kaiser Kahuku Clinic Chief, and Imi Ho`ōla graduate “I have no doubt Imi Ho`ola was the turning point for me. It leveled the playing field for me so that I could succeed in pursuing my dream of becoming a doctor.”

{Each graduate is introduced} “January Andaya of Honolulu, Andrea Bucci of Honolulu, Brian Imada of Honoka`a, Jolana Gollero of Waipahu, Karra Imoto of Hilo, Crystal Lam of Aiea, Paul Muna Aguon of Guam, Janelle Otsuji of Ewa Beach and Jessica Yuen of Kapolei.”

{Speaker} Dr. Keawe`aimoku Kaholokula, Chair, Department of Native Hawaiian Health. “Aloha and welcome to all the parents, mentors and the students who sit before you who are about to begin their journey as first year medical school students. Can we just give them a round of applause?”


The applause is well earned; the pride nearly overflowing. In July the next group of promising students will begin a new Imi Ho`ōla journey…and nurtured by their own, they will be in good hands.

{Speaking}  “Mom, this is Dr. Voloch. Oh, it’s so good to meet you. Thank you so much for all your support. You are a really good mentor.”

And a good mentor, sometimes, is what you need the most.

The John A. Burns School of Medicine is part of the University of Hawai`i at Manoa.

This report produced, shot and edited by Tina Shelton.  Still photographs by Arnold Kameda.

To view photos of the event on Flickr click here.

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