Director of Admissions and Financial Aid James Faustino said the I-WORK program plays a necessary role in the ability for hundreds of BYU-Hawaii students to further their education.
“The I-WORK program is built on the principle of self-reliance,” said Faustino. “It is for those students who have demonstrated they have financial need and, without having the opportunity to be in this program, they would never be able to come here.”
“[As a result], we are enriched by the world community we have here. You don’t have to travel the world. Come to BYUH, the world comes to you. It will allow you to have that experience and exposure of the diversity of students we have here.”
Faustino said the abbreviation of I-WORK stands for International Work Opportunity Returnability and Kuleana, which means responsibility. He said the mission of the university is to teach students how to become leaders. “Leaders not only in their country but also in their industry, in their family, in the community, and in the church.
Faustino said he likes to recognize the BYUH alumni when he travels to different islands. He said, “When we attend firesides, we like to ask our alumni to stand and inevitably anybody who is there in leadership… are BYUH graduates.
“What is interesting is when you travel to Asia or the Pacific and you say BYU, they don’t think [BYU at Provo]. It is BYUH they all talk about, because this is their university.
“There is a special place in the hearts of the people from the Pacific and Asia for this university, and we want to make sure we keep that prophetic message and door open for those opportunities for those individuals.”
Mike Tejada, senior manager for Financial Aid, said, “The I-WORK program directly accomplishes the vision of President David O. McKay, bringing people from all around the world to educate them, build leaders, and give them leadership opportunities.
“I have seen students come from all around the world, and they come here to gain an education, then go home and become principals… bishops, stake presidents, business owners, and government workers.
“We are hand-selecting future leaders. It’s a big weight on their shoulders and they know it, stepping up to the plate, fulfilling those callings.”
Financial Aid Counselor Laurene Puhi said, “The I-WORK program is very important to me and if the students have a desire to come and learn, then I think they should have that opportunity.”
Supervisor of Financial Aid Jocelyn Lopez has worked with I-WORK for six years. She said the program started its first term in 2009 and has been successful since. Before I-WORK, Lopez said a program called I-West was in place and no loan was required.
McClean Sauseru, a freshman from the Solomon Islands majoring in business, agreed the I-WORK program helped him and his family. He said he would not have been able to afford coming to BYUH and would have gone to school in Fiji, which would have been a lot cheaper.
Sauseru said, “Because of the [program], I am able to have a job and support myself. I have money to pay for everything I need as a student. I feel I don’t put too much of a burden on my family. I am happy that I am able to work at the Polynesian Cultural Center and have some money to support myself.”
According to the International Student Aid Application (ISAA) found on BYUH’s website, “The I-WORK program allows students from the Pacific Rim to fulfill BYU-Hawaii’s mission and prophetic vision. I-Work students integrate spiritual and secular learning to provide a foundation for a lifetime of Learning.
“The I-WORK program assists young men and young women in developing character and integrity so they can provide leadership in all aspects of their lives. It also provides a significant group of faithful and committed church leaders who will assist in building the Kingdom, particularly in the Pacific and Asia Regions.”
Faustino said, “We expect them to be those leaders and builders, builders of the Kingdom of God in their home country.”