Here at UHMC, we really have an outstanding staff of instructors, counselors, and mentors. These are individuals that are truly driven with the urge to help impact the lives of our students and create positive change in our communities. Among our gems of enthusiasts, is Moana Kahoohanohano, UHMC academic counselor. This is one awesomely inspiring wahine, who I have personally had the pleasure of learning from. Her intrigue in connecting students and empowering them to make prosperous future and career driven decisions ignites the same flame in the very students she mentors. Here’s how Moana removes all the confusion from your educational journey and replaces it with hard hitting knowledge and understanding of ones purpose, and how to attain these new found goals and more. Let Moana plug you in to the route of your future.
Moana is an island girl born and raised on Maui, who always found an appeal in helping others and working with people. She had front row seats in the realms of social work and advocacy, modeled by her parents, due to her eldest sibling having developmental disabilities. She was very aware and well informed about the resources in our community. In high school she was a mediator and peer counselor. She worked for grass roots organizations for our Maui community that focused on youth and training individuals who needed work skills, but Moana felt that an individuals sustainability also needed an educational component. She received a degree in social work and felt an urge to be apart of a team that can make shifts for people to open doors to a positive environment. She was drawn to UHMC, where she realized the final pieces that ultimately summed up her life’s path. Moana admits proudly that when she initially took courses at what was Maui Community College, it took her eight years to get a two year liberal arts degree.
“Every time I talk to students and they say ‘Its taking to long’ or ‘I left to work and now I’m coming back’, its never too long. I too kept leaving to work in the community. Back then I was interested in the arts and I still am. Today, I do art as a hobby, its a part of who I am. You can tell an artist, its not something we do, its a lens that we look through.”
Moana expressed a similarity between doing art and the art of counseling.
“Counseling is another avenue of creativity. Theres no one way to do it, for each student you need to shift. Is my volume to loud for this student? Its about creating, creating an environment for a student. To read the student and provide the best environment for them to come to you with there wishes and dreams and goals. I inspire to create that perfect environment of openness and beauty so that students can feel relaxed and easy flowing. Divulging your hopes and dreams and being vulnerable isn’t always easy.”
Moana says she enjoys working the convocations. She loves how the faculty engages with the students. She expressed that she takes part in creating the ambiance for graduation, and she loves to work the checkins because seeing the proud families of our students who have accomplished is such a humbling experience. She draws strength in seeing the strength of the students, especially those who have excelled despite hardship. These things inspire her. These moments are what keeps Moana smiling as an academic counselor.
Moana speaks with grace and empowerment, and as a student who was helped by Moana myself, I attest that Moana was an instrumental piece of my educational journey. When I first decided to come back to school after years of going a different route, I had no clue what steps to take and where to turn to get started. Moana helped me to piece together my specific goals and needs and should me how to do what needed to be done to move forward each step of the way. A main take away from her was her words on equity.
“Its equity, you know, every body deserves a fair chance. Everybody is welcome and I really appreciate that here about our Maui Nui, we meet people where they are at and we work at helping them achieve there goal, whatever that is.”