I had been standing there for 20 minutes. My feet ached from clenching the rock beneath me. I couldn’t tell what was louder- the sound of waves crashing 60 feet below me or the sound of my heart pounding in my chest.
There is a moment in the midst of fear when your body separates itself from your brain. My next memory was the salty wind racing past my body and the sound of waves crashing closer and closer. Without even realizing it, my body had reacted. I had jumped.
Growing up on an island, my weekdays were spent barefoot, my weekends were spent sunburnt, and Hawai’i is where I thought I would be forever. She has given me deep roots that are a part of who I am as a Native Hawaiian woman.
When high school was over and the question of my future got brought up, I was sure Hawai’i is where I wanted to stay. Everything here is my home, and everyone that fills it is my family. My parents encouraged me to go off island for college. But the thought of moving to the mainland by myself was terrifying. I had lived on a rock my whole life, graduated high school with 12 other students, probably knew more chickens than people, and all of a sudden my family wanted me to leave! I didn’t understand.
My mother and I sat weaving ti leaf lei in our yard. She looked up and said to me, “You should go to the mainland to learn everything that you can and bring that knowledge back to the islands one day.” All of a sudden I returned to that feeling of fear. Hawai’i as my rock and the mainland as my ocean, a sea of unknown. Would I stand on that rock paralyzed in fear or would I jump?
Two months later I was saying goodbye to my best friends, family, and beloved O’ahu. I got on a plane and arrived at Colorado State University not knowing anyone, having no warm clothes, and full of nervous excitement.
Jumping off the rock
Fast forward three years and I am now a first-generation student in my third year at CSU studying human dimensions of natural resources, published a book on Hawaiian language, and definitely know more people than chickens.
My passion for social media started from my love of Hawai’i and wanting to share her beauty and culture with others around me. During the COVID lockdown I made my first TikTok, teaching people about Hawaiian language and giving short tutorials of how to make Lei Po’o (head adornments) out of native plants in your garden. It went viral overnight and I quickly gained a following on TikTok and Instagram. People liked what they saw and wanted to learn more. I started shifting my content to capture my passions of hiking, vegan food, family, art, traveling, reading and of course Hawaiian language.
When this job opportunity presented itself I was excited! All of my past jobs were purely work experience but I knew this would be something different, it would be something that I was passionate about. I am now surrounded by the most supporting team members who are smart and encouraging.
My tasks as a part of the CSU Social team are to be the voice of CAM the Ram on social media, curate student Q&A interviews, and content creation.
My journey from O’ahu to Colorado was only a stepping stone in my journey to learning around the world. I now seek opportunities that make me excited with being in unfamiliar territory, and having new experiences. I want to receive everything that this world has to offer me while giving my own unique perspective and knowledge to those around me. CSU has given me more opportunities and experiences than I could have ever known possible if I had stayed on my rock and refused to jump.