Kalolaine ‘Uhila, born in Lahaina, Maui, was the first in her family to attend college. Her parents are Tongan immigrants, and as the oldest daughter she told ATD she carried a lot of responsibility and high expectatons. Determined to earn an education from a young age, she secured an athletic scholarship at Clackamas Community College in Oregon, playing basketball. Her educational journey was interrupted multiple times when serious injuries resulted in the loss of athletic funding, and she no longer had a way to pay for college.
Eventually, she found a job opportunity at Iḷisaġvik College in Alaska that allowed her to save money and reignited her goal to complete her degree. She told ATD that she fell in love with the North Slope and the communities she worked with. She is still working and studying there, pursuing her passion of supporting Indigenous communities through psychological and human services.
We recently caught up with Kalolaine (who goes by Kalo) to hear about what she’s been doing since she was with us on the virtual stage at DREAM 2022.
Q: What was your favorite part of DREAM 2022?
A: It had to be watching my DREAM Scholar family share their poems. Although it was a recording, it still packed the same power as if it was in-person. This was my favorite part of DREAM because I was able to build connections with these amazing people who I consider family.
As we were going through the process of writing our poems, where they started and where we finished, no one outside of our group knew the emotions and energy that were put into the final product. To be able to hear the other Scholars’ stories and their triumphs — how could I not be on the edge of my seat watching their recordings during the conference? It brought me nothing but drive and motivation to know that each of our stories isn’t just representing ourselves. We represent those who have passed on, our communities, our culture, those who cannot share their stories, and especially the institutions that have nurtured our dreams with love and hope.
Q: It’s been almost a year since DREAM! What are you doing now?
A: I am currently working full-time at Iḷisaġvik College as the administrative assistant to the dean of students and as a residential advisor. I am also in the Allied Health program earning my Associate of Applied Science in Indigenous human services. I was able to represent the college by being one of 50 scholars to intern at Seattle Children’s Hospital. There, I was able to grow my passion for working in the field of child and adolescent development.
Q: How has your experience being a DREAM Scholar affected your plans for the future?
A: This experience has helped strengthen my desire to know that I am able to complete my goals of becoming a psychiatrist for rural communities and for my Tongan heritage. I know, from being a DREAM Scholar, that I can achieve everything if I share my story and bring light to issues that need love and attention.