Events of last month expanded my horizons on the future.
To get right to it, the Paubox Kahikina Scholarship is now the Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship.
Our scholarship is currently applicable to all Native Hawaiians pursuing careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
In other words, we have broadened the scope of our efforts.
This post explains how I reached the rhetorical conclusion that Native Hawaiians lack opportunities when it comes to STEM careers.
Software Engineering is still an Honorable Profession
Last year I wrote a post called Software Engineering is an Honorable Profession. In it, I posited the confluence of insatiable demand, speed to market, and wealth generation have created unprecedented opportunity for software engineers.
When we created the Paubox Kahikina Scholarship in 2019, its primary objective was precisely that: To encourage Native Hawaiians to pursue careers in computer science and software development.
Now in our third year, I realize there is much for me to learn when it comes to scholarship programs.
For example, last month one of our scholarship recipients emailed me with an update on their college journey. Using somber words, they informed me of their recent switch in majors from Computer Science to Cybersecurity.
Under its prior format, they would no longer qualify for the Paubox Kahikina Scholarship. Keep in mind our scholarship is recurring in nature; recipients receive $1,000 per year until they graduate (5 year maximum).
In other words, this person had the grit to tell me they had switched majors and would no longer qualify for our recurring scholarship.
This did not sit well with me.
Why are we removing opportunity from those that need it? Also, are we to punish candor? They could have easily told me everything was the same.
Perhaps a minority scholarship for Native Hawaiians with a laser focus around software engineering is not what’s needed most in today’s climate.
I put it off to the side for a couple days to sleep on it.
An Adjacent Possible lunch with Elliot Mills
That same week, I had an adjacent possible lunch with Elliot Mills at The Pacific Club in Honolulu.
Elliot and I recently met via an introduction from Micah Kane. Elliot and Micah both serve as board trustees for Kamehameha Schools.
As we got to know each other over an extended lunch, I brought up our scholarship and the fact that a simple search for “Native Hawaiian STEM Scholarship” revealed only one relevant match.
Elliot quickly replied with something to the effect of, “that’s right, we (Kamehameha Schools) don’t have a STEM scholarship.”
The signal could not have been clearer.
On my walk back to the apartment after lunch, it became obvious to me what we must do next.
Yes, software engineering is still an honorable profession, but a STEM Scholarship for Native Hawaiians is where we can have the most impact.
And that’s what we’re now doing. Ancora imparo.