HPA student, Xander Lai ’20, is taking holiday spirit to the community and beyond by working with Project Hawai'i to help 100 homeless teens on Hawai'i Island. Click the red link above to learn more!
A short two months where without school and homework, students can choose to spend their time as they wish. Here's a glimpse into the diverse activities our HPA students have done during their summer breaks.
Its the first day of school, and as all the students return back to school, the air is filled with an excited buzz. Everyone is reuniting with friends and telling the stories about all their adventures over summer. It's only been a few months, but for students at HPA, it has been a busy time; They have been taking classes at college campuses, enjoying the outdoors, getting jobs, and traveling around the world. I have always loved those first days, seeing my peers eyes light up as excitedly, they recount the stories and adventures that they had over summer, yet there never seems to be enough time to share everything that they have done, and soon the chatter about summer dies down as students fall back into the swing of classes, and the conversation turns towards the daily drama, homework, and sports.
This is a place that shares these stories and the accomplishments students have achieved outside of school so instead of being forgotten they are celebrated. This is a place to explore the breadth of opportunities out there for students, to and the possibly help you plan the perfect way to spend your next summer break. This is a place to return to the wonder and excitement of listening to your peers stories during the first days at school.
This Is My Story
With so much pressure to get into my dream school, I, like most students at HPA, tried to enrich my application through various extracurricular activities. I enjoyed most of them, meeting new friends, and learning new things, but at the end of the day, I always thought of them as activities to help me get into college, not as things I was passionate about.
That all changed with my internship with UH cancer center this summer. Ironically, I was actually looking forward to participating in this program less than I had for other things I had done. I was disappointed that the program focused around epidemiology. I was so set on going into molecular biology, that spending the summer performing statistical analysis on disease development based on surveys seemed boring. I didn’t really see how any of this would help me with my ultimate goal: Finding a cure for cancer.
When I started work the first few weeks, I instantly feel in love. Everything was exciting. I enjoyed finding out new risk factors for cancer, or analyzing how cancer affected different ethnic groups differently. I had never really thought about how to prevent cancer, because I was so focused on wanting to treat disease, yet this is incredibly important. I couldn't wait to come to work each day, often arriving first to the Cancer Center, and sometimes staying late. As high school students we were required to work for 160 hours. I ended up working for more than 250 hours, even extending my trip in Oahu to stay until the very end of the program, only arriving home days before school started.
I couldn't wait to come to work each day, often arriving first to the Center Center, and sometimes staying late.
Sometimes my mentor joked that they should hire me on the spot, or ask me how long until I got out of school so I could potentially come back. Although I knew that she was never serious, I began to seriously rethink my career path. I was no longer sure if I wanted to stick through another ten plus years to get my PhD and then start research. School had always been something I enjoyed, but after spending the summer actually preforming research, everything seemed so trivial and unimportant. I didn’t want the summer to end.
I know that I was lucky. I found a program that look interesting, went out on a limb, and found something I was passionate about. I want everyone at HPA to have that experience, because it was truly life changing. I knew as soon as I started my work at the Cancer Center that this would be my Digital Journalism project, highlighting these moments people realized your passion, or moments that changed their intended career path. I also hope that this can act as a useful resource for other students looking for things they may be interested in.