Maui students capture two top prizes from Takitani foundation scholarships

Maui County took a total of $34K including eight $2,000 awards

The Maui News

Maui students captured two of the top scholarships, worth $10,000 and $8,000, awarded by the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation.

Joseph Kim of Maui High School received one of two $10,000 Mamoru Takitani Outstanding Student Awards, the top scholarship amount presented. The graduating senior, the son of Sung Yun and Kyung Sook Kim, will be attending Columbia University in New York City in the fall.

His school and extracurricular activities included serving as president of the National Honor Society, captain of the Math League team and vice president of the Key Club as well as a Big Brothers Big Sisters tutor, a Korean Academy teacher, a volunteer at Hale Ho’ike’ike (formerly the Bailey House Museum) and a worship leader and Sunday school teacher at Maui Onnuri Church.

Lexie Leon of Maui Preparatory Academy was the recipient of the Karen Uno Distinguished Student Award of $8,000. The daughter of Richard and Valerie Leon plans to attend Nova Southeastern University in Florida in the fall.

Her honors and extracurricular activities included winning five gold medals at the Science Olympiad and serving as president of the National Honor Society and captain of the school’s varsity paddling team.

The foundation, which made its announcement Tuesday, awarded $181,000 in scholarships to 62 seniors from qualifying public and independent high schools in Hawaii as part of its Legacy Scholarship Program.

In addition to the $10,000 and $8,000 scholarships, the foundation awarded two students $6,000 Director’s Awards and nine students $5,000 scholarships as district finalists. Forty-eight other students received $2,000 scholarships.

Maui students receiving $2,000 scholarships were Katelynn Oliveira of Hana High & Elementary School, Katie Yoshioka of Baldwin High School, Dorian Raboy-McGowan of Kamehameha Schools Maui Campus, Erica Sawczynec of Kihei Charter School, Alexus Yoro of King Kekaulike High School, Ian Paul Viloria of Lanai High & Elementary School, Sonja Angst of Molokai High School and Milena LaMonica of Seabury Hall.

Students were nominated by their schools and selected for scholarships based on their strong academic achievement, dedicated community service and financial need, according to a news release.

“The Takitanis knew hard work, innovation and commitment to excellence were key factors in their success with Hawaiian Host and wanted to recognize those same qualities in Hawaii’s outstanding students with the opportunity to further their education,” said KSSK Radio personality Michael W. Perry, chairman of the board of the Takitani Foundation.

Mamoru and Aiko Takitani founded Hawaiian Host, manufacturer of Hawaiian Host chocolates, and established the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation to give back to the community. Hawaiian Host donates part of the proceeds from the sales of its products to the foundation in support of the scholarship programs.

Since 1993, the foundation has annually presented scholarships to an outstanding student from every qualifying high school in the state and has awarded over $2.4 million in scholarships.