Lei graduated high school in June 2005. She wanted to continue on to college, but she did not have the funds or a strong enough support system to see that happening. She knew the importance of getting a higher education and earning a degree, but she was unsure as to how she was going to be able to afford college. She did not know how she was going to work and go to school full time. After a friend told her about the services offered by Ku’ina, Lei knew this was a program she needed to be a part of. Lei was enrolled in Ku’ina in Fall 2005.
While enrolled in Ku’ina and attending college, Lei gave birth in 2007. Lei was now a single parent and in order to support her new baby, she started working full time while continuing to be a full time student. Lei became overwhelmed and brought up her concerns to the Ku’ina counselor. She was struggling to balance home, work and school. She felt that it was more important that she work and make money than to continue her education. Under the guidance and support of the Ku’ina staff, Lei decided to drop down to part time at both her work and school. The staff also helped her apply for scholarships. That way she could continue to do both.
In 2009, Lei received her Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. She has since then moved to the island of Oahu and is attending UH Manoa. She is in the Tourist Industry Program, is working towards attaining her Bachelor’s Degree and is expected to graduate in 2012. Leinani is very grateful to the Ku’ina Program. She knows that without the support, guidance, and motivation from the program staff, she would have dropped out of school.