The UAA Hawai'i Connection, Part 4: The Present and Future

The UAA Hawai'i Connection, Part 4: The Present and Future

All the UAA student-athletes from Hawai'i still have family and friends back home. Some dream of returning to live on the islands one day and all those who do agree the high cost of living means they will need to establish their careers on the mainland first. For those who may never live in Hawai'i again, they are determined to bring the "Aloha spirit" with them wherever they go.

2009 Emory University graduate Steve Bralver did not grow up in Hawai'i, but his parents still live there after moving to the state when he first attended the University of Hawai'i. "Now that I have a career, I am happy to visit my parents, who are now retired there," Bralver said.

Photo: 2009 Emory University graduate Steve Bralver working as a stunt man on a shoot in Hawai'i

Bralver ended up going against his father's wishes and following in his footsteps. "My dad was a stunt man and he did everything he could to keep me from doing it," he said. "I called his contacts and they all said 'You are going to do stunts. Use that to do whatever you want in the business.'" (For more photos and information on Bralver's career, visit his IMDb page here

Quincy Marting is currently a candidate for a Master's degree in mechanical engineering at Washington University after majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in energy engineering as an undergraduate. He will be seeking work in renewable energy and energy efficiency. "I attribute my career goals to my upbringing in Hawai'i," he said. "Sustainability is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture and has been the basis for my current career goal of getting involved with the energy efficiency of buildings and renewable energy technology."

Photos: 2015 Washington University graduate Quincy Marting

Although Marting's future employment is still to be determined, he does plan to move back to Hawai'i some day. "I am still figuring out my exact career path and the types of jobs and companies I am looking for. I think I am just going to see where life takes me," he said. "While I may end up somewhere on the mainland for a little while, I know I want to raise my family in Hawai'i. So I will make my way home eventually."

An economics major at University of Chicago, sophomore soccer player Spencer Ho expects to be on the mainland after he graduates. "At this point I am looking into consulting and potentially venture capitalism," he said. "Although I am not exactly sure what I want to do yet, I like dealing with the consumer side, big data analytics, and problem solving. I have always been interested in being an entreprenuer or investing in someone who has a really good idea. There are just more opportunities on the mainland, yet I learned a lot of good values from my family and the Hawaiian culture."

Photo: Sophomore Spencer Oh of University of Chicago

Case Western Reserve University first-year volleyball player Christine Tamura has only lived on the mainland for a short time so far. "Hawai'i is my home and it has a special place in my heart," she commented. "I would really love to return to Hawai'i after college, but the cost of living is extremely high and there are very limited job opportunities. I know I will definitely visit, but I'll probably go wherever jobs take me."

Senior Josiah Situmeang of Washington University definitely hopes to return to his homeland one day. "I am currently setting my sights on graduate school once I'm done with undergrad so I'm not entirely sure on my plans for the immediate future," he commented. "However, I'd like to one day return to Hawai'i to be a part of the community that has shaped me."

Photo: Washington University "Hawai'i Club." Top, L-R: Josiah Situmeang, Quincy Marting, Austin Darmawan; Bottom, L-R: Kalehua Katagiri, Andrew Skalman

Andrew Skalman has worked for Amazon in Seattle since June, 2014, while also continuing his work with a company he co-owns called Pupu Kine, a socially responsible apparel brand that promotes positivity in the community through service projects and working with non-profit organizations. "I think I'll move back eventually, but right now I'm living in Seattle and loving it,' he said. "It is nice being able to take a direct flight to get home though."

Photo: 2014 Washington University graduate Andrew Skalman

Senior Nick Kwon of Case Western Reserve University definitely has his sights set on his home state. "I'm actually hoping to attend medical school at the University of Hawai'i," he stated. "If that doesn't work out, then I hope to one day return to Hawai'i. For now I'm enjoying living on the mainland and exploring the rest of the world. It's great meeting new people and experiencing new cultures."

Similarly, junior golfer Alyssa Poentis of NYU hopes to attend medical school in Hawai'i. For now, she doesn't get back to the islands very often. "I only get to go back home during summer and winter breaks," she said. "I wish I got to go home more often but the 11 hour airplane ride makes it much harder to do so. It would be awesome if I could attend medical school in Hawai'i. If not, my dream is to eventually move back home."

Photo: Junior Alyssa Poentis of NYU

2016-17 will be the final year at Emory University for junior Daniel Pietsch. As part of a "3 and 2" program, he will complete his undergraduate education at Georgia Tech. "Emory does not have engineering, but I liked it too much to pass up the opportunity to go there. I plan to get my degree from Georgia Tech in mechanical engineering, the most broad field, so I can find out what seems most interesting to me."

Pietsch does plan to return to Hawai'i this summer regardless of whether he lands an internship there or not. As far as his future plans, Pietsch said, "I would like to eventually move back to Hawai'i. Career-wise, I don’t know how I would end up back there, but I would like to."

2010 University of Rochester graduate Blayne Fuke thinks living in Hawai'i again may not come until after his baseball coaching career. He generally returns to the islands around the winter holidays and makes a point of seeing his high school baseball coach Dunn Muramaru. Currently an assistant coach at Vassar College, Fuke thought about becoming a coach even before originally joining Vassar as a volunteer assistant. "The strategy and the game within the game intrigues me," he said. "I think it all started in high school playing for Coach Muramaru."

Photos: L: Blayne Fuke coaching at Vassar College; R: Batting at University of Rochester

Case Western Reserve University runner Marissa Miyagi doesn't expect to make it back for winter, spring, and summer breaks the way she did this past year, but does hope to return permanently at some point.  "I would love to return to Hawai'i after school," she said. "I know the job pool is more limited and the cost of living is high, so I would be extremely fortunate to move back."

Patrick Sheehan, who graduated with a psychology degree from NYU in 2015, is pursuing a law degree at Brooklyn Law School. "The dream of practicing law came to me around the middle of high school, but I did not actively pursue it until the end of my junior year at NYU," he said. "For the near future I anticipate living in New York, but maybe 10-15 years down the road I would consider moving back home."

NYU junior Tristan Medios-Simon is happy to be in New York and has a similar timeline as Sheehan. "I know I want to live in Hawai'i in 10-15 years," Medios-Simon stated. "It wouldn’t make financial sense to move back now. Hawai'i is a small place in terms of opportunities. The dominant industry is tourism and very high in banking. There are not a lot of ways to move up and a lot of people move because of cost of living. There is a complacency for those who stay there, which is not conducive to being successful in the long run. When I go back, I can bring the knowledge I have accumulated in New York."

Photo: Junior Tristan Medios-Simon of NYU

Senior Austin Darmawan, who is planning to stay at Washington University for a fifth year to earn his Masters of Engineering degree to refine his interests in engineering, expects to move to the West Coast to begin his career. "The cost of living in Hawai'i is crazy," he remarked. "My ultimate plan is to work 5-10 years in the continental U.S. and then move back home to hopefully start a family."

Photo: Senior Austin Darmawan of Washington University

Shanna-Lei Dacanay found her calling while at Washington University. "My passion for sustainability and renewable energy was ignited during my senior year of college when I took a renewable energy class and subsequently a sustainable design class," she remarked. "I knew from then that I wanted to focus on this for a career eventually."

Dacanay, Marting, and Darmawan are three former and current Washington University student-athletes interested in renewable energy and sustainability, with Dacanay and Marting currently in graduate school and Darmawan preparing for a fifth year in 2017-18.

Photo: 2009 Washington University graduate Shanna-Lei Dacanay in Iceland

Dacanay is now studying Sustainable Energy Engineering at Reykjavik University. "I went from living on a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean to living on a frigid island in the North Atlantic Ocean, but they are similar in that they are both geologically located over 'hot spots.' Iceland is an island nation that harnesses geothermal energy and utilizes it extremely well. I plan to learn as much as I can about renewable energy, particularly geothermal, during my time in Iceland, and in the future contribute towards achieving Hawai'i's clean energy goals," she stated.