Not Giving Up

Beginning with uncertain plans and a few false starts, Student Research Award winner Jusden Keliikuli found support and success at Kapiolani Community College.

I’ve come a long way with my college education.

In high school, I didn’t prepare for college. I completed the SAT test at the last minute before graduation and received low scores. Attending a local community college became my best option. While taking a year off before enrolling, nursing became an interest. The salary, along with the opportunity to care for others, was very appealing. So I started my college career by majoring in nursing at Kapiolani Community College (KCC), where I completed prerequisite courses. I transferred to Hawaii Pacific University (HPU), hoping to be accepted into its nursing program. While at KCC and HPU, however, my interest for nursing gradually faded, which affected my grades. Eventually, I decided to drop out of HPU for financial, academic, and personal reasons.

I didn’t want to give up. I still had the desire to continue my education and become a college graduate.

I returned to Kapiolani Community College and started my engineering career. It was a very rocky restart for me. Math was always a strength of mine but I struggled in calculus and physics and failed a few times. I persevered, especially after taking Dr. Herve Collin’s General Physics calculus-based course. With the help and encouragement of Dr. Collin and this research paper that he allowed me to write, everything turned around for me. Even though I’m not where I would like to be at my age, I am enjoying every part of my current journey. Being awarded for my research paper fuels my drive to continue the path that I am currently on.

I am on track to graduate this semester with three associate degrees, including an Associate in Science in Natural Science (ASNS) with a concentration in Physical Sciences, an Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts, and an ASNS with a concentration in Engineering. I will then transfer to UH-Manoa, where I have been accepted into the College of Engineering this coming fall. I’m still deciding between mechanical engineering and electrical engineering but I’ll be in a position next semester to think about which route I would like to take. I’m really excited for my future classes and enjoying my classes that I have now.

The photo here includes me and my girlfriend Ashley Tibunsay of almost thirteen years. She has always supported me, been through everything with me, and never left my side. The photo of myself [above] is from a National Science Foundation-funded pre-engineering summer bridge program with the University of Hawaii where my team and I won the competition for Best Poster Presentation, which was the first time I ever won anything in my life.

Mahalo nui loa,

Jusden Keliʻikuli