100 high school juniors and potential BYU–Hawaii students from countries such as Singapore, China, Egypt, Australia and the United States arrived on campus on July 22 to participate in Holomua, a six-day college preparation experience.
Losili Alusa, from California and the Holomua 2019 recruiting coordinator, said, “All the 100 kids that are here were chosen specifically. There were more than 300 applicants and 74 percent of the kids are from our target areas; Hawaii, the South Pacific and Asia.”
Throughout the six day program, students stay on-campus and participate in various activities such as ACT (American College Testing) prep, team building activities, service projects and tours of the Polynesian Cultural Center and campus.
According to the BYUH admissions website, “The focus [of Holomua] is to equip high school students with greater tools to prepare them for success as they move forward toward higher education.”
Alusa said a lot of preparation has gone into preparing for Holomua 2019. “I was a mentor last year and in December the admissions office approached me and asked me if I would like to be the Holomua coordinator for this year. I started working in January of this year, so for the past seven months I have been working and preparing for Holomua.”
According to Alusa, there is an extensive application process for students to be accepted for the Holomua program. “With Holomua, there’s an application process that opens a year before, so kids have to apply, they have to write an essay, get endorsements from their bishop and also turn in their high school transcript to make sure they fit our criteria.”
Explaining why he choose to come to Holomua, Dean Loveridge, from Sacramento, California, said, “BYU–Hawaii seems like a great family environment. Everyone in my family has gone to BYU–Hawaii so I decided to come and be like most of them. It seems like a great place especially with all the culture and diversity of all the students.”
Alusa remarked, “The first day everyone is nervous. They don’t know anyone. But by the time Wednesday or Thursday hits, they become best friends. These are potential BYU–Hawaii students for Fall 2020.”
Loveridge added, “I’m enjoying Holomua. It’s kind of like EFY; we are always doing stuff and just having fun activities and going to classes. Everything is family-oriented because everyone’s supposed to be like a family here. So all these activities help us to get closer and be more like one. Especially with our service project, we’re all just going to be serving the Lord. Being here is something we all want to do.”
Stating why she wanted to attend Holomua, Nicole Anderson, from Washington, said, “Two of my cousins are actually attending BYU–Hawaii. I wanted to come here and see for myself if I would like BYU–Hawaii as a college for me. I really like how this school is a small scale. It seems easier to meet people and make friends.
“It’s been easy to bond with people. Even the first few games we played it was easy to make friends even though we don’t know each other. Our counselor is also really good at helping us get out of our comfort zone.”
Holomua tutors, made up of students and graduates of BYU–Hawaii, assisted the Holumua 2019 participants in their preparation for taking the ACT (American College Testing) test. Students attend classes Monday through Thursday, focusing on the four different sections the students will be tested on in the ACT.
The selected tutors teach according to their specialization in either English, reading, math, or science. The tutors engaged students through video presentations, introduction of new resources, and time dedicated to practice.
Melissa Nguyen Lumogdang, ACT prep science tutor, said that the goal of these preparation classes are not to teach content, but to teach test taking strategy. “There is less of a focus on knowledge and more of a focus on critical thinking and test taking confidence.”
One Holomua participant, Meleana Paikula, from Hawaii, was able to see the fruits of these classes even after just the first day. “The tutors have all been really great and insightful. I have learned more about how to save time while taking a test and it has also helped me to get good practice. During the summertime, it is nice to have some good practice before I enter back into school.”
Angela Fantone, ACT prep reading tutor, said that being around the participants has been a great experience and reminds her of her days preparing to apply for college. “I want to help these kids feel more confident and excited about test taking and applying for college. I’m doing my best to give them lots of practice so that they can improve their time management.”
As the students continue throughout the week, the hope of the tutors is that they are able to learn new strategy and apply it to their work and test taking. Selu Ita, Holomua tutor, concluded that the tutors will do all they can to achieve this goal. “If we can help the students to build their confidence and build strategy, we know they will walk away feeling more prepared.”