The following post is published on behalf of Ariell Siliado, 2021 Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship recipient.
Aloha mai kākou! ʻO Ariell Siliado koʻu inoa, my name is Ariell Siliado, and I am a recipient of the 2021 Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship. I’m currently studying at the University of Hawaii at Hilo for a bachelor’s degree in Biology: Cellular, Molecular, Biomedical sciences with a minor in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi or Hawaiian language. My career goal is to become an obstetrician/gynecologist and return to my home island of Kauaʻi to serve my community.
It would be an understatement to say that I’ve experienced a lot in this past year, both good and bad. In the first few months of school, I’ve gotten to meet new friends, explore new places, and start my college journey. One of my favorite places that I got to visit was Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. I have happily developed the hobby of site-seeing Hawaiian landmarks, like Akaka falls, and museums that exhibit Native Hawaiian culture.
After some time, I did begin to face many struggles with my mental health. University education was a whole new territory for me and for the first time, I feared for my grades. I began to isolate myself from the world and only left my room for class and basic necessities. My friends that lived only a few doors down would see me a couple times a month. Then, in late November of 2021, I received notice that my father unexpectedly passed away from an unknown cause. It was emotionally and physically draining to deal with this loss while taking 16 college credits and already grappling with mental health issues. I also worried for my mom who lost the love of her life and now had the financial pressure to support myself and two younger siblings, one who will also be going into college next year.
After all of these experiences, I’m proud to say that I was able to bring myself to a happier place. There are still days that I am overcome with grief or need some time to care for myself, but I have an amazing support system. I’m now entering my third semester of college, have reconnected with my friends, and have learned to love myself. I was also fortunate enough to move into a dormitory that feels more like a home and found two jobs in campus housing that accommodate my class schedule. I am also the UH Hilo chapter treasurer of HOSA- Future Health Professionals, a national organization for students interested in healthcare. I am extremely grateful to the Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship for believing in my dream to become a health professional and continuing to support me through this long, difficult journey. Not only am I proud to be one of their recipients, but I am excited to be a representative for all Native Hawaiian youth who want to pursue a career in STEM.