The Holomua program is more than just preparing high school students for college life, according to BYUH Director of Admissions James Faustino. Its goal is to help participants build character through spiritual and team-building activities. “We want them to feel the mana [power], the spirit and understand the history,” Faustino added.
Holomua is a college preparation program hosted by BYU–Hawaii every summer for high school juniors to experience university life and prepare for and take the ACT (American College Testing) exam.
Participants of Holomua will already be familiar with the university if they decide to attend school at BYUH. Faustino added, “They can be the next generation that upholds some of the same tenets. And the same principles can perpetuate that spirit moving forward for the next students as well.”
Zach Jones, a 17-year-old participant from Virginia, said he wanted to find out who he is while attending Holomua. He said he flew to Hawaii with that question in mind and his mentor, Delphia Lloyd, a junior from Idaho studying hospitality and tourism management, said she noticed Jones was completely himself for the duration of Holomua.
Lloyd said, “We accept Zach as who he truly is, even though he keeps saying he is a troublemaker. It [Holomua] helps the kids see their true self beyond the person they define themselves.
“Both participants and mentors felt so good after a whole week of encouraging activity. Everyone felt a sense of belonging, no matter who they are and how different they are.”
Deciding to study at BYUH
Faustino shared a lesson learned by a female participant. She was at the Polynesian Cultural Center for the Huki canoe show and a feeling came over her and she couldn’t stop crying. Knowing that it was from the spirit, she shared with Faustino, “At that moment the spirit testified to me that [this school] is where I need to be.”
Faustino said knowing this story is rewarding. “These kids receive revelation in their own way and the Lord knows what they need.”
Another participant, Warren King from Singapore, said BYUH has always been his dream college. Being accepted into the Holomua program was a highlight for his summer.
King said his background fit with the environment at BYUH. “I have moved a lot in my life with different cultures and languages. I feel really comfortable here. [This school] is perfect for me because it is like how my life is. “
Finding friendship through Holomua
Chad Yuen, a director of the Holomua program this year, said one of the highlights was seeing the relationship grow between the mentors and 100 high school students. “The participants were having great experience because of the mentors. They truly love everyone in the group. They make the kids feel included and feel the spirit of aloha.”
Jones said he was alone at first but all the friends he made have strengthened and supported him. “My uncle encouraged me to join. He said the third day is usually when people truly came out. It is very true; it was nice to be myself.”