Tapping the Ka Makani network

Young alums share their perspective on life and work after HPA

As HPA students and young alumni begin to imagine college, careers, and life beyond HPA, they have a host of resources to draw upon for guidance, support, and inspiration. Among these are the alumni programs team in HPA’s advancement office, and also their fellow graduates around the world.

“Ka Makani is forever, we like to say,” says Sheri Salmon ’03, stewardship and young alumni engagement manager. “It is our passion in the office to help make connections for our alumni. It’s what we love doing, and we really mean that.”

Recently, Salmon and Zaheva Knowles, director of alumni and parent giving, hosted an online Q & A for current HPA students and recent graduates to tap the experience of young alums on topics such as college internships, networking, and “real life” during a global pandemic. Their answers were candid, insightful, and full of Ka Makani spirit. Even when connected through satellites, cables, and screens, HPA’s ‘ohana shone through.

We’re sharing a few quotable moments from our stellar alumni panelists: Leala Humbert ’03, Morgan Monahan ’14, Ryan Salmon ’03, Luigi Sambuy ’14, and Hannah Twigg-Smith ’14. Plus you can watch the full Zoom video further below.


From day one in college, I was on a path to apply to corporate internships … because at that point I wanted to be a software engineer. And I did get an internship at Google; I was there for three summers. Through that, I actually realized I didn’t want to be a software engineer, I wanted to go the academic route instead. But those internships were a crucial part of my experience and helping me make that decision.”

—Hannah Twigg-Smith ’14 (pictured above), Olin College of Engineering, class of 2018; third-year PhD student in human-computer interaction, University of Washington, on letting yourself evolve through exploration

I worked corporate briefly and it was not for me. … I wanted the work to be my vision and to be done my way, and so that’s what I did! To be an entrepreneur, you have to have an idea, you need a little bit of fearlessness, and the confidence to know that you can do it—you want to do it, and you don’t see failure as an option.”

—Leala Humbert ’03, University of Oregon Honors College, class of 2007; founder, Ua Body Skincare, on becoming an entrepreneur

HPA has always asked for excellence, and set high standards for its students, whether athletically or academically. If you can apply those foundations to your life and career, you will see nothing but growth and success. If you are willing to learn every day, and to go above and beyond what is asked of you, success will come.”

—Ryan Salmon ’03, former escort captain for Hōkūle‘a; captain, Young Brothers LLC, on the influence of HPA

Coming from HPA, where you are held to a high standard, you are going to be very hard on yourself. … So it’s important to go into life after HPA with a lot of patience for yourself, with an open mind. That’s easy to say, tough to do. But just know there is no way to mess it up, as long as you are opening yourself to opportunities, which I think HPA teaches you how to do.”

—Luigi Sambuy ’14, BA, MA in computer science, Stanford University; solutions engineer for the financial technology startup, Plaid, on cultivating resilience and patience

According to the theory of “loose ties,” the most influential people will be just outside your direct circle. … It’s the friend of a friend who sparks an idea or puts you in touch with the place you get your next job. So stay open and really vocalize what you are curious and passionate about. … If you really want to work with someone, just keep putting those feelers out, and something is going to hit.”

—Morgan Monahan ’14 BA, MA, University of Southern California; creative strategist, MOCEAN, on networking beyond your circle

Get more advice from our panelists with the full Zoom discussion