My name is Carrie Ann Shirota, and I am the Counselor Coordinator for the Mu`o A`e Native Hawaiian Student Success Program.

Throughout my life, I have been blessed with family, teachers and role models that emphasized the importance of “education.”  Not just formal education, but also hands-on training in the “real world.”

Born and raised on Maui, I graduated from Baldwin High School in 1992 and Santa Clara University in 1996, with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, and a double minor in Sociology and Ethnic Studies.  Beyond the college classroom, I immersed myself in campus and community service opportunities that helped me to develop a commitment to social justice.

Despite vast opportunities in California, I wanted to return home and “give back” to the community that nurtured me.   Since I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with my Liberal Arts degree, I headed off to law school at the University of Hawai`i.

My law degree opened many doors for me – as an Enforcement Attorney for the Hawai`i Civil Rights Commission, Deputy Public Defender, past Director of MEO’s B.E.S.T. Reintegration Program, Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow, and now, as an employee of the University of Hawai`i Maui College.

I am grateful to have a job that allows me to utilize my education, and passion for social justice to empower Native Hawaiian students to “Kūlia i ka nu`u” and advocate for progressive policy changes.

I am also grateful for the many lessons that our students teach us.  Indeed, I am often inspired by their resilience and commitment to reach their educational goals.

With that in mind, I’d like to share some advice with current students and those considering college:

  • Stay focused on your educational goals.   This will help you to move forward when obstacles come your way and you feel like giving up!
  • Take advantage of all educational resources on campus.  We are here to serve students!
  • Explore a variety of classes from different disciplines.   College is a great opportunity to find out what you are most passionate about!
  • Get involved with campus activities, internships and community service opportunities!
  • Your education has the potential to have a positive ripple effect.  It is my hope that you will use your education to serve others, and uplift your `ohana and community!