Kaimana Awards; St. Louis' Jaels Mauhili Kaneakua

By Liz Chun - bio | email

Academics, athletics and community service make up HMSA'S Kaimana close-up.   This month, we feature a St. Louis student who says his scholarship changed his life.

Jaels Mauhili Kaneakua is a young man with a lot of responsibilities. But he likes it that way. It's what he's worked for.  See Jaels has earned his tuition to be at St. Louis.

"The Noa Webster Aluli Scholarship Foundation was awarded to me as a freshman because of good academics, being a Hawaiian and living on Hawaiian homestead land," he said.

In living up to the 4-year scholarship, the senior now holds a 3.5 grade point average.

"It really made me focus more on my grades and not letting it slip," he said.

But there's a lot more to Jaels' commitment to the Crusaders. This year he was voted student body president. His first big project was homecoming. On this day he's helping his class prepare for the pep rally. In fact, what Jaels enjoys most about leading is finding ways to rally support.

"It really helped me to ask people for help," he said, "instead of sitting there and do it all by myself. It helps to have a council that helps you out too."

When the school day ends, practice begins.  Jaels is a defensive tackle for the Crusaders, and while he loves football, he loves another sport even more.

"I would pick paddling because it's the closest thing to the water and I love to be in the water," he said. "But football is pretty tough, so I got to stick to paddling."

Even when Jaels is away from campus, he looks forward to volunteering at the Iolani Palace.

"This is history. I'm walking in history, I'm actually putting my name in history and preserving this artifact forever, for someone else to come and look at."

Every Sunday, he's a greeter, a tour guide and guardian for a room at the state monument. The experience never gets old for Jaels.

"There's another picture that I look at or another piece in the palace that was put here that I didn't see the last time I was here."

Promoting his culture is something Jaels is very proud of. It's why he enjoys helping kids who like him grew up speaking Hawaiian.

"I was teaching at Anuenue," Jaels said, "at their school at a certain grade they introduce the English language to them because they're mostly taught in Hawaiian."

There's a lot of responsibility in being a role model, but Jaels Mauhili Kaneakua wouldn't have it any other way.