Pōhai Kukea Shultz, academic advisor and doctoral candidate in the UH Mānoa College of Education, was selected for a fellowship in the First Nations’ Futures Program (FNFP). The program is an international alliance among Kamehameha Schools, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (Aotearoa, New Zealand), Stanford University, Sealaska First Alaskans Institute, and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. The common purpose of the partners is to improve the well-being of their communities and to serve as stewards of their natural and cultural resources.
Kukea Shultz coordinates Pu’uhonua: Hale for Native Hawaiian Student Support in the college’s Office of Academic Services (OSAS) and is currently working on her doctorate in education. She is one of six Hawai’i fellows who were selected by Kamehameha Schools.
“Pōhai is an effective leader and a perfect steward for this program,” said OSAS Director Melvin Spencer. “The valuable experiences and research opportunities that she will have while participating in the FNFP will support her vision for Puʻuhonua, which is to build and strengthen the foundation for future generations of Hawaiian educators.”
Criteria for fellowship selection are based, in part, on the likelihood that the fellows will assume executive or governance leadership roles within their communities. Each of the partners selects four or more fellows annually, forming a cohort of emerging leaders who will go through the program together. Fellows attend a three-day orientation, three two-week institutes, and a graduation ceremony.
FNFP creates pathways for research and education while addressing the needs of the partners’ communities and organizations. The core components of the program combine leadership development topics with case studies, problem-based learning modules, and place/problem-based research projects in order to develop well-balanced leaders and more integrated solutions for FNFP’s issues.
“As an academic advisor and coordinator for Pu’uhonua, I support Hawaiian students from admission through graduation and recognize the kuleana that I have to help them in their educational goals for the betterment of our entire lāhui,” Kukea Shultz explained. “In the same way, I understand that, while this fellowship will help me to hone and grow my leadership skills, my kuleana is to use these skills to give back to my community. I feel extremely grateful to be a small part of this greater vision.”