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Service-Learning Award Spring 2011

Athena Esene

Excellence in SL is not about simply “logging the most service hours” – it’s about students demonstrating their understanding of the connections between their academic work and real-world issues.

Today we honor Mrs. Athena Athena Atuatasi Galea’i Esene, for the quality and the quantity of her engagement in learning through service. 

Athena began doing SL in her freshman year, and as she advanced through her accounting major, she participated in increasingly specialized SL projects. She tutored at Palolo Elementary, did fundraising for non-profits, helped with the FAFSA Project, facilitated financial literacy courses, did field surveying, and Participated in the VITA Project.                              

Athena’s professor Wayne Tanna quotes Woody Allen, saying that “Showing up is eighty percent of life."  He believes If THAT’S true, then getting people to the place where they need to be is a large part of the success of any SL project.  Athena was the student that took the time to become certified to drive the Chaminade vans.  Then she took the initiative to handle all the logistics for various trips both near and far (from Kaimuki to Waianae).  While she facilitated service, she also particitated. She helped a struggling single mom access valuable tax refunds and credits.  She helped high school students from low income families to get the scholarships they needed to actually GO to that life-changing place called college.   

Professor Richard Kido also attests that Athena was an extremely ACTIVE participant - almost always a leader among the students. He says, “She often took over the supervisory role from the Professors, to the point where we had nothing to do."

Athena’s mastery of her course material, paired with her experience applying those lessons in the real world, have shown in her outstanding presentations.  She has presented at Service-Learning Day, in the Students in Free Enterprise competition, and at the AABSS Conference in Las Vegas, where audience members were impressed by her professional style and technical expertise

Thank you, Athena, for your great example of civic engagement and academic excellence. Congratulations.