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Freshman competition winners participate in the first meet and greet with President Kauwe

Graphic of a woman with brown hair wearing headphones looking at her laptop sitting at a table with an orange background.

Twenty new students participated in a virtual meeting with President John S.K. Kauwe III, on Nov. 10 and said his words made them excited for their future at BYU–Hawaii.

During the previous New Student Experience Connect event on Oct. 16, they had a competition on Kahoot about BYUH trivia, and the top 20 students with the best scores were able to attend a meeting with Kauwe.

Rachel Richardson, a junior from Arizona majoring in intercultural peacebuilding, recently transferred to BYUH. As one of the top 20, Richardson said she was invited to meet Kauwe.

Fellow attendee Sahara Schroader, a freshman from Arizona majoring in Biology, said, “I thought this would be a cool opportunity to get to know the president and be able to ask him questions when I wouldn’t normally have this opportunity.”

The best part was being able to feel united with her peers, Kauwe and the mission of BYUH, she added.

During the event, President Kauwe talked to the students as if they were already close friends, Richardson said. “My first impression was he is very friendly, outgoing and an open book.” Although they discussed important topics, the students were also able to learn more about Kauwe personally, she said.

Erwin Boenari, a freshman from Indonesia majoring in hospitality and tourism management, said he appreciated hearing about Kauwe’s hobbies. These hobbies included music, playing the ukulele and playing sports, he said. These are all activities Boenari enjoys as well, he added. President Kauwe also discussed his responsibilities, and Boenari said Kauwe works hard.

Kauwe seems like he is an incredible president, Richardson said, adding Kauwe said he felt grateful and blessed to have responsibilities to make student’s lives easier. “He also discussed how he feels a lot of sympathy for us having to go through this situation of COVID-19. … All day, every day, he is working for us to make it back to campus as soon as we can,” she added.

Schroader said she appreciated the openness he had about the pandemic. “It has been so hard to get information about the COVID situation, especially as a freshman,” Schroader said. She added she appreciates all the hard work President Kauwe is doing. “It’s very clear he’s not fulfilling this position for personal reasons, but to help others,” Schroader said.

Boenari said, “The President’s desire to help really impressed me.” He said he learned from Kauwe’s comments about serving others. “The most important thing is we need to work hard and fulfill our duty as a student to study and to love others,” he said.

Richardson said she is looking forward to the future. “We are in really good hands because of President Kauwe. … I can tell he has a really deep love for Hawaii, and he cares deeply for his family. I’m really excited to see what he does for BYU–Hawaii.”