Last week, the Opportunity Scholars program honored their 2020-21 graduates with a virtual Luau. The event gave students a chance to celebrate this important accomplishment with their families, faculty, staff, fellow students, and donors.
The evening started with a welcome from program leaders Richard Kaufusi and Latu Kinikini, and a dance performance from student ambassador Haylie Heale. Graduates then spoke to those who have inspired and guided them through their journey, expressing gratitude to donors and mentors who helped make their education possible.
A heartfelt current of emotion ran throughout the evening as these first-generation students thanked their parents who had sacrificed so much for them.
“I went to college to give my parents and myself the opportunity of education that they never received,” said Finance graduate Francela Gonzalez.
Graduates also offered words of wisdom to fellow students. A common theme was perseverance and resiliency, or as Accounting graduate Norberto Gutierrez calls it, “Embracing the grind.” Recognizing the challenges of higher education, many encouraged scholars to not give up and utilize the resources available to them. “Ask for help and support,” said Emily Kazuko Yeo, Accounting graduate. “Opportunity Scholars is such a great resource, and Rich and Latu are here to help you with whatever you need.”
And finally, as always with this remarkable group, there was a strong message of service. Students spoke of the many opportunities they had within the program to give back to the community and use their own unique stories to encourage others. Wendy Yu, Information Systems graduate, summed it up perfectly, “No one is you, and that is your superpower!”
Each graduate received a gift package that included a special stole and lei.
Graduating Opportunity Scholars for 2020-21 include:
- Syed Amir Behashti, Information Systems
- Logan J. Berger, Finance
- Oriana Akemy Canchumani, Accounting
- Cristian Adan Cortes Information Systems
- Derrick Duy Duong, Accounting
- Samantha Edwards, Marketing
- Leilani Melissa Gastelum, Operations & Supply Chain
- Francela Gonzalez, Finance
- Norberto Gutierrez, Accounting
- Nina N. Holt, Accounting
- Eric J. Jara, QAMO
- Brianna Jones-Whelan, Poli Sci
- Ethan Q Le, Operations & Supply Chain
- Alexa Maciel, Information Systems
- Vika Tiueti Mailei, Business Administration
- Keaten James McDonald, Business Administration
- Anh Thi Chau Nguyen, Finance
- Diana Hoang Nguyen, Finance, AFA
- Mackinley Kien Nguyen, Accounting
- Manuel Ivan Palacios, Accounting
- Jhon Panotes, Information Systems
- Janely Perez, Business Administration
- Theodore Keaton Polevoy, Finance
- Nathan Davis Suitter, Business Administration
- Peter Joseph Sullivan, Marketing
- Taysha Tiatia, Economics
- Jasmin Topete, Social Work
- Marlena Vee Utai, Management
- Melissa Vanegas, Information Systems
- Hunter Benjamin Wilbert, Finance
- Emily Kazuko Yeo, Accounting
- Wendy Yu, Information Systems, BS, MS
The Eccles School is proud of our Opportunity Scholar graduates and this fantastic program designed to support and enhance the educational experience of first-generation business students as they progress toward graduation. For more information, visit Eccles.link/opportunity-scholars.