By Anna Gilarski
Leolani Corpuz, more commonly known at “Tida,” is widely considered to be one of UH Maui College’s best and brightest math tutors.
The name “Tida” was given to Corpuz by her mother. She was the youngest out of five children and the only girl, she said, “So Tida is definitely cool with me.”
Corpuz was born and raised on Maui and grew up poor. Her mother was a single parent and her dad lived somewhere on the island, but he wasn’t in their lives after the divorce. Her uncle (her dad’s brother) helped them out a lot, along with her mother’s friend Seward Akahi, who was like a father figure growing up. He supported and raised Corpuz, along with her siblings most of their lives.
“If you are wondering where I get my personality from, it is partly from Seward,” she said. “He’s very outspoken, social, sarcastic, witty and fun; I really took that personality on… I’m comfortable talking to pretty much anyone.”
When she was a freshman at Baldwin High School, Corpuz started wrestling, mainly due to a dare by her older brother Kaika, who said she wouldn’t last one season.
Corpuz ended up placing third in the state tournament as a freshman, then went on and placed in the top five for the 175-pound women’s MIL (Maui Interscholastic League) four years in a row. In 2002, she placed third; in 2003 she placed fourth; in 2004, she placed second; and in 2005, she placed third.
“I know, I didn’t ever win first at the state level,” she said.
But she came pretty close.
After graduating from high school in 2005, she got a job working at Jamba Juice at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center and enrolled at Maui Community College (now UH Maui College). She attended for one year, but Corpuz ran into financial aid problems and had to drop out.
Years later, after her son was born, Corpuz decided it was time to go back to school. She had always wanted to be a teacher and math was always her best subject. Corpuz finished her associate’s degree in 2012, and then went on into UH Manoa’s outreach program for her bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies (so that she could stay on Maui). She received her bachelor’s degree in 2014 and is currently working on her master’s degree, which she will complete this spring.
Corpuz is currently working at Maui High School in a student teaching position and is in the process of becoming a high school math teacher. As for why she’s tutoring with an already jam-packed schedule.“It makes good practice,” she explained. “When I’m leading a class, I don’t want to be standing there looking like I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Although her schedule is very tight, she still manages to give back to the community by coaching Baldwin High School’s wrestling team.
She also helps her kids with their math homework upon request.