Posted May 2009
The first thing you may notice about Rachel San Agustin (Senior, Accounting) besides an engaging smile, is that she is VERY organized. Her personal datebook is nearly a work of art. Beautifully arranged and minutely scripted, it looks like the work of the meticulous, detail-oriented accountant Rachel is soon to be.
Rachel chose Chaminade because she wanted to go to a small school. She felt that the Marianists were “very family-oriented, more relaxed” and liked the style of the school. Originally intending to major in psychology, she soon made a switch: “I was mistakenly enrolled in a business class my first semester. I loved it. I changed my major the first day of school.”
Rachel plans to take the CPA exam in July, and continue studies at Chaminade for her M.B.A. She will never be “just an accountant,” however. Her caring nature and the work she has been doing at Chaminade point the way to a life of involvement in the community that no doubt will become part of her career as well.
Rachel has participated in professor (“The Tax Guru”) Wayne Tanna’s work with the homeless since her junior year. It has been a life-changing experience for her, and she says helped her to break out of her old ways of thinking. She said, “Most people don’t think that the homeless would be filing taxes. But many of them are in transition, they may have just lost a job, or they are working part-time, or had to leave their homes because of domestic abuse. It is always so interesting to see the match between a person and their documents, to hear their stories. These are people I would have never met. You know, they are no different at all, just because you don’t see them. Homelessness is not that far away for any of us. Something can happen in your life that changes everything.”
Rachel is enthusiastic about professor Tanna. “He is so inspiring. I think that the most meaningful part of my Chaminade experience has been service-learning.” Rachel says Tanna “drags all of us down to the homeless shelter.” Training for the students starts even before the semester begins. The students are IRS certified, and work closely with Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii and Aloha United Way. The students get hands-on experience in their specialty, and often garner refunds for people who need them the most. Rachel also sees it as a great way to network with other professionals in the community that are donating their time. It is a win-win situation for all.
Other service-learning projects Rachel has participated in are financial aid and FAFSA workshops, and helping to organize and direct the Financial Literacy Workshops for the Palolo Homes Learning Center. These projects primarily benefit low-income immigrant families in nearby areas.
Rachel has enjoyed many aspects of her business degree program at Chaminade. A marketing minor, she has worked closely with her mentor professor Peggy Friedman, (“she’s so smart”) and feels that the small classes and personal relationships with faculty are a big influence on her development. She took the Hogan Entrepreneurial Program and is enthusiastic about the challenge: “You cannot sit back and be passive in this program, you are challenged to participate one-on-one with the successful business mentors that work with us. You break out of student mode. We learn everything about making a business that will really have a life of its own, from “breaking even” to making a venture capital presentation.” An alumna of the Chaminade Hogan program, she went on to sample the Hogan Program at Gonzaga University one semester, as an exchange student, and was once again immersed: “They have a different emphasis. They focus a lot on leadership skills and team building. Also, they have a business incubator on campus. I learned a lot.”
Rachel is one of two recipients of the 2008 Community Impact Student Award from the Hawaii Campus Compact, for outstanding leadership in community service.
The President ’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes colleges and universities nationwide that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs. The Honor Roll's Presidential Award, given each year to only a handful of institutions, is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. In 2007, Rachel, along with Richard Kido & Nolan Kido (faculty) and Candice Sakuda (Service-Learning Director) accepted the award for Chaminade University.
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