Leilani Wong is a graduate of Brigham Young University in Hawaii. Photo / Provided
Getting a college degree is an incredible achievement, especially when you’re away from home in another country.
For young single adults (YSAs) in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYU-Hawaii) is a popular destination, especially for YSAs who have returned from full missions. time and are looking to further their education. and meet new friends.
This trip offers great opportunities for young people to meet other people from around the world who live common standards of good health and well-being.
Many Kahungunu students attend BYU-Hawaii. They live on campus and most of them are involved in the IWORK program designed to help students study while working at the nearby Polynesian Cultural Center or on the BYU-Hawaii campus to help offset their tuition.
It’s a great opportunity to learn, grow and explore new talents. Most of the time, our Kahungunu students will gravitate toward each other and enjoy home and family conversations around a kiwi kai.
We have thousands of BYU-Hawaii graduates who have returned home to New Zealand and many have married and are living in Hawaii or other parts of the world.
Recently, my family and I traveled to Hawaii to attend my daughter’s graduation. She’ll probably get mad that I’m writing this article about her, but I’m absolutely proud of her and her accomplishments. In fact, if it helps other YSAs navigate their way through young adulthood, then that’s great.
This is an excerpt from her journey – Leilani Wong.
In 2017, after my mission, I came to Hawaii on a trip with Uncle Traci (Tuimaseve). Sitting in the Hawaii Temple (LDS), I was inspired to come to school here (at BYU-Hawaii). So, immediately after my return to New Zealand, I started my application. I applied twice and was rejected twice. It was embarrassing. In my third application, I thought, this is it, do it or move on…and luckily, I was successful. I was accepted to the school and was able to receive the IWORK scholarship.
Fall 2018, I arrived nervous and excited about what this new journey would bring. And what a trip it was. It was a roller coaster full of ups and downs! The occasional homesickness, the challenges of balancing school and work, classes, food, slow communication, dating, etc…it’s all been a tough journey.
I finally felt like taking on the challenge, choosing three majors – psychology, graphic design, and social work. Which sometimes meant taking on 24 credits per semester. It was hard – and sometimes depressing. But I’m proud of myself for persevering. Something about taking three made me feel like I was proving to myself and the school that if it took me three tries to get in here, I would do three times the work and prove that I am supposed to be here.
Besides studying, what really made this trip was the people. My family, my friends, my unit mates, my colleagues, my teachers and everyone. The people had everything to do with helping me through and making this trip so fun.
Thank you all for everything! Without you, I don’t think I would have made it…seriously, some of you know how badly I considered dropping out lol. So thank you for the pep talks, beach trips, naps, temple walks, soda bomb drinks, basketball, movie nights, listening to music, massages, laughing, crying etc. etc THANK YOU.
I’m so grateful to have come here, there is something in the water yes. Even though it can be awful some days lol… there is something special about it – a love for people, for education, for culture, for God! We come from all over the world and share this brief moment together, and I couldn’t be more sure of my decision to come here. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.
Four years later, I finally graduated. Again I sat in the temple in Hawaii and thought, I did it, Heavenly Father. Thanks for having me… What’s next?
If you are a YSA contemplating what you will do next, do not give up on your dreams of inner belief. Life is a journey. Dreams come true.
On Saturday, June 25, Leilani graduated from Brigham Young University of Hawaii, magna cum laude, with a triple major in social work, psychology, and graphic design.