Parents: Ross and Cathy Kagawa

High School: Kauai High School

College/Degree: University of Hawai’i at Mänoa, Bachelor of Education in Elementary Education

Occupation: Kindergarten Teacher

What or who drives you to keep moving forward?

“All that I am I owe to my parents, who have encouraged me to be the best person I can possibly be and never forget where I came from. They have instilled in me values to be grateful, kind and open minded yet have courage, wit and perseverance as I progress in life’s journey.

“Whether with my family, friends, or teaching very impressionable 5-year-olds, I strive to be a better daughter, sister, friend and teacher.

“Knowing that each day is a new day for me to live a life that is true to myself is what keeps me moving forward.”


Parents: David and Gail Lee

High School: Lutheran High School of Hawaii

College/Degree: Hawaii Pacific University, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Occupation: Behavioral Health Outpatient Program Coordinator and Therapist

What or who drives you to keep moving forward?

“My mom has been the most influential source of motivation for achieving my life goals. She often took me to work with her during school brakes where I observed her in her work environment as a low-income public housing manager. She was devoted to helping those with less because she believed that in order for them to progress, their basic human needs must first be met. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory, physiological, safety, belongingness, and esteem needs must be met before progressing to self-actualization, one’s fullest potential in life. My mom taught me that you must be willing to personally respond without expecting anything in return. My decision to work in the mental health field was inspired by her dedication to improving the human condition. In order to make an impact on the larger community, first discover what is needed, then be brave to take the necessary steps.”


Parents: Gary and Kelli Minatoya

High School: Hawaii Baptist Academy

College/Degree: Concordia University Portland, Kapi‘olani Community College, Psychology

Occupation: Manager of Geriatric Activities

What or who drives you to keep moving forward?

“Throughout life, we are constantly riding the inevitable roller-coaster of ups and downs. My family and friends have been there for me through everything, but adversity has been the inspiration in my life. Adversity inspires me because it provides challenging opportunities to better myself and exposes weaknesses I never notice otherwise. Through growing pains of life, I have learned to work harder when I don’t get results, peace in loss of loved ones, appreciation and gratitude from unfavorable experiences, love through broken hearts and happiness in knowing that everything’s meant to be. I wouldn’t be the person I am today and who I want to be in the future without hardship with my family and friends alongside supporting me. Everything I face from now on is because of experiences I have gone through and everyone I have met. Any adversity only inspires me to be better than I was yesterday.”


Parents: Bobby and Wilma Sambrano

High School: Mililani High School

College/Degree: Chaminade University of Honolulu, Bachelor of Science in Nursing candidate

Occupation: Resident Care Aide/Nurse Aide

What or who drives you to keep moving forward?

“My motivation to progress in life stems from a multifaceted foundation that consists of inner strength, self-determination and lifelong learning. We learn from our past moving forward and through overcoming hardships, never giving up, and having a passion for helping others keeps me to strive in constantly improving myself.

“I have spent my life living this ideal.

“‘Do all that you can for others with the life that is given to you.’

“Not expected to live after being born with a rare heart condition, this motto has thus carried through two open-heart surgeries and perpetuates a central focus of why I’m here.

“With an unwavering support of family, it is the unconditional love for people that has empowered me to be active in the community and to give back with this second chance at life allowing me to make a positive impact in the lives of others.”


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