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Maui Pride presents $14K in scholarships

Maui Pride’s board of directors presented $14,000 in scholarships to six college students at its annual Gala Awards Dinner Oct. 3 at Kahili Golf Course in Wailuku. The nonprofit also honored the Maui Aids Foundation, and community members Deborah Vial and Caron Barrett, for their continued dedication to Maui’s LGBT community.

The community honors and scholarship awards were presented by Maui Pride’s special guests Sen. Roz Baker and Ms. Hawaii Flecha Tovar. Baker showed her support in a short speech during which she praised Maui Pride for its continued efforts to increase awareness and education about – and for – the LGBT community on the Valley Isle.

Maui Pride presented general scholarships to four individuals who have demonstrated that they will continue to be leaders in the LGBT community through education, volunteerism and continued work for equality.

The board also presented the Raja Shortell Memorial Scholarship to two individuals who they believe will carry on Shortell’s passion for social justice with a focus on helping troubled youth.

The first recipient of the general Maui Pride scholarship went to Lynda Barry, a 58-year-old transgender woman from Wailuku who has overcome adversity, including mental health issues and societal expectations.

Barry, who studies electronics and computer engineering technology at University of Hawaii Maui College, accepted a $1,000 scholarship.

The second general scholarship went to Ikaika Moreno from Pahoa, Hawaii. Moreno is studying nursing at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Moreno is a Native Hawaiian, a member of the National Honor Society and has worked toward educating the LGBT community about the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Moreno, who received a $2,000 scholarship, plans to work as a nursing family practitioner after graduating from GWU.

The third recipient of the general scholarship was Wailuku resident Chasity Cadaoas, who has demonstrated a commitment to LGBT community with her work at Maui Aids Foundations and her volunteer work at Women Helping Women. Cadaoas is studying human services at UH-Maui College and has impressed community members with her specialized training, family-style leadership and compassionate service to others. She received a $2,500 scholarship.

The fourth Maui Pride general scholarship went to 19-year-old WenLu Duffy, a two-time scholarship recipient from Kula. Duffy is a musician who has played violin in the Maui Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and recently appeared in “Evita.” Duffy, who received a $2,500 scholarship, attends UH-MC and will continue her education next semester at University of Hawaii-Hilo, where she plans to study marine science.

The first Raja Shortell Memorial Scholarship went to Jade Chihara, whose parents fostered a transgender sibling while Chihara was still in high school. The Lahaina resident is studying women’s and gender issues at Smith College in Massachusetts. Chihara’s family accepted a $3,000 Raja Shortell Memorial Scholarship on her behalf.

The evening’s final scholarship went to Raysha Mamala, a transsexual woman who is studying at UH-MC. In addition to being a full-time student, Mamala is a dedicated volunteer with the Queen Liliu’okalani Children’s Center’s Youth Leadership Program. She also is an active member of the Lahaina Hawaiian Civic Club and has a passion for educating others about Hawaiian culture. Mamala accepted a $3,000 Raja Shortell Memorial Scholarship.

“The mission of Maui Pride is not about teaching tolerance. Instead, we work tirelessly toward achieving appreciation of all forms of diversity in society through education and enlightenment,” said Chuck Spence, vice president of Maui Pride and owner of the Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort. “What better way to accomplish this mission than through the Maui Pride scholarship program? It is the pinnacle of the work this organization does all year-round.”

Baker and Tovar also presented community awards to the Maui Aids Foundation for its long-standing work to support the health and well-being of the island’s LGBT community and Deborah Vial and Caron Barrett for the years of dedication to Maui Pride and other community organizations.

Funds for the scholarships are raised through various Maui Pride events including Pride Festival Weekend, the annual Lava Soiree and monthly Rainbow Dine-Out events. Visit mauipride.org for details about upcoming events and giving opportunities.