NUKOLII — Kalena Numazawa-Pacanas started her speech before her peers and elders, and then the tears cascaded uncontrollably down her cheeks. Numazawa-Pacanas was overcome momentarily by tears of joy — seconds after Mayor Derek Kawakami and Scholarship Committee Chair Cyndi Ayonon presented her with a $500 scholarship, which the Waimea High School student will use to attend Kauai Community College. Kalena plans to major in accounting after completing her associates at the local community college.
“I’m not the greatest speaker, I’m sorry,” Numazawa said. “I’d really like to thank my parents.”
That’s when the reality of the scholarship and sacrifices her parents had made for her all came to the surface as she struggled to continue on with the speech, involuntarily breaking down with emotion.
“I work two jobs and my parents both work full-time as well, so being a recipient is so amazing, it is kind of unreal for me,” she said before apologizing for the outburst of emotion, prompting someone in the crowd to respond, ‘don’t be sorry.’
Numazawa-Pacanas was one of 13 scholarship recipients granted by the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) on Saturday at the Kauai Beach Resort that featured guest speaker Joy Barua with Kaiser Permanente.
“I’m so extremely humbled to be up here right now,” she told the crowd. “As everybody has mentioned, college is really expensive. I know me and my family have worked our butts off to get me here.”
Numazawa-Pacanas will be the first in her family to be able to attend college, and the scholarship from the KFCC will help her to be able to aspire to her dream of helping the community of Kauai with their future financial needs.
“It’s really a surreal feeling,” she finished her speech saying, followed by a standing ovation.
The scholarships were something the 13 recipients wrote an essay to the KFCC in order to receive. The scholarship funds are raised by the KFCC foundation through their annual golf tournament, which takes place on Labor Day weekend this September and has been held for the past 13 years.
In order to give the scholarships to the 13 recipients, the KFCC formed a 501(c)(3) due to the fact the KFCC is a nonprofit organization. The formation of the 501(c)(3) several years ago enabled the KFCC, which is technically not a charitable organization, to donate the funds for the scholarships for Kauai youth to further their education.
Foundation President Bobby Ayonon gave some words of encouragement prior to the scholarship award ceremony.
“Life begins now,” Ayonon said. “You leave this island and then you come back…You are very important to this organization now because you were handpicked. You will be a great example to the community.”
The 13 recipients this year were: Juliana Tampus (Kapaa High), Mayumi Fulgencio (Kauai High), Samantha Bostick (Waimea High), Haylee Garcia-Raquel (Kapaa High), Venus Sebastian (Kauai High), Emily Morden (Kauai High), Mahina Olores (Kauai High), Kaytlen Akau (Kauai High), Kalena Numazawa-Pacanas (Waimea High), Desiree Brioso (Kauai High), Marvin De Peralta (Kauai Community College), Jolina Edurise (Kauai High), Scott Tamayo (Kauai Community College).
Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island