Posted January 2010
Alumnus Hawea Aila (B.A., Management 2003; M.B.A., Business Administration, 2004) is the face of Kamehameha Schools to many families, as Kamehameha Schools’ Resource Center Coordinator for the Neighbor Island Regional Resource Center. He is the lead facilitator for the mobile satellite office that moves to a different location on Oahu each week. The Resource Center assists local families with school business within the communities they live in. Previous to this job, he worked as an administrative assistant for the Cultural Resources Department at the Bishop Museum.
Hawea graduated from Kamehameha Schools, and then attended Chaminade for his freshman and sophomore years, and earned a quite respectable GPA of 3.5. He was tempted to try a larger school and transferred to UH, but admits that it just didn’t work for him: "I just got lost, I was just a number. That year my GPA dropped to 1.8." He transferred back to Chaminade and was able to focus on his studies again. Hawea appreciates Chaminade’s smallness and the "open door" policy of the faculty: "The teachers are always available and helpful. You can build great rapport with fellow students and staff. It was a comfortable environment. It made a big difference for me." After completing an undergraduate Bachelor’s in Management, Hawea went on to complete an M.B.A. at Chaminade as well.
Hawea remembers several of his professors and mentors at Chaminade as influential. Prof. Wayne Tanna finally helped decide Hawea’s major: "He shed light on my decision, forcing me to step back and reevaluate what I wanted out of college. At the time I was an IT major that needed a business requirement. Tanna was my professor for that business class. One day he shared with us that it might be wiser to remain in a general business field in order to remain competitive in the future. Choosing a specific field might narrow options and limit opportunities. I picked up what he put down that day and I still think he’s right." Tanna also was the faculty advisor for Chaminade’s Strong Man Contest the year Hawea won. "I still have my trophy and weight belt." Hawea said the strong man contest, and finishing his MBA degree, were the high points of his college days. He is the first generation of his family to go to college, and "just keeping my eye on the prize" was so very important. Other mentors were professors Larry Price ("a local-favorite") and Scott Schroeder, ("very professional, very motivating.") Hawea says, "Chaminade had professors that were both "local" style –they know how business is done here – and "mainland" style – the core of any business degree. I think that mix is good. You need to know both if you are going to stay in Hawaii, to do business here."
Hawea is of native Hawaiian descent, and remembers that Kumu John Keola Lake first taught him the meaning of his name in Hawaiian language class. Hawea is the name of a sacred drum that played a role in the births of Ali'i. Before he was born, a friend of Hawea’s mother suggested the name: "My mom liked it but she didn’t know what it meant." He was impressed that a Kumu with John Lake’s stature in the Hawaiian community would be "hiding out" at Chaminade. "It is unfortunate that we lost him so early."
Hawea is expressing his entrepreneurial side and putting his business MBA to work with an event and wedding planning business he runs with his wife, 'Ohe Events (www.oheevents.com.) In their 3rd year, 'Ohe Events plans any event from weddings, bridal showers and baby luaus to retirements and other events. Hawea says, "Check out our website for any event planning needs you may have."
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