By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

Angela Leonardo raised her hand from the back of ʻIliahi 103 on Friday, Jan. 25, as she proceeded to pitch ideas to the president of the new Health and Medical Association (HĀMA) Club, Maya Mendez, of what activities and events members could participate in. Suggesting ideas such as having discussions about public health to prenatal care, the 33-year-old’s excitement for what she could possibly experience grew during the club’s first meeting.

“I liked how the club officers were really interested in input from all the pre-health students to know what … we would like to see, so I’m kind of excited that it’s so broad and there’s so many students from pre-med and RT [Respiratory Therapy] and RadTech [Radiologic Technology] … ,” said Leonardo, who is taking pre-requisites at KCC in order to get into the graduate nursing program at UH Mānoa in Fall 2019.

HĀMA Club, a name that the club developed and said means “breath of KCC” to showcase the role it wants to have on campus, became an official Registered Independent Organization (RIO) in Spring 2019. Open to everyone on campus, club president Mendez, a 19-year-old Waipahu native who is double majoring in international relations and English with a minor in theater, said creating this club would provide students the experience of learning about healthy living and the pathways that are available that can lead to professions in the medical field.

“A lot of these students, they … want to get into contact with health professions, they want to learn more, like, ‘Is this for me?'” Mendez said. “And so that’s kind of opening the doors for that. I’m here to bring in that inclusiveness for the club.”

With the goal of wanting to expose club members to the various health and medical fields that exist, Mendez and vice president Stephanie Nelson asked for students’ participation to develop ideas of what they would want to be a part of. Amongst the suggestions of having speakers come to campus, touring hospitals, and visiting a cadaver lab, the thought of hearing from a panel from UH Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) was the most popular.

Aside from gaining insight from guest speakers and through visiting medical-related facilities, Mendez shared with the students that she hopes the club will be able to have an impact on the community, especially to those of younger generations.

“I asked everybody, like, ‘What do they want to see in this club?’ and the two things was community impact and leadership opportunities,” Mendez said. “This club will impact students in becoming prepared leaders, prepared students … the willingness to be a part of the community and put yourself out there …”

The club’s faculty advisor, Dr. Sheryl Shook, shared that it still has one vacant leadership position: a public relations officer. With the opportunity to network with outside resources to plan club events and to spread awareness of HĀMA Club through social media, Shook said that it is a position that can be beneficial to a résumé. Students who are interested can reach out to the club at

With its next meeting yet to be announced, students who are interested in joining HĀMA Club can learn more about it at its booth during RIO Club Day at the Great Lawn on Monday, Feb. 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As the club develops, Mendez hopes that HĀMA Club can provide a space that anyone can find of interest that will lead them to be a part of the club to gain new knowledge about healthy living.

“[Students] can become a member and they can just go to our workshops or they can just go to our speakers and listen in on some of these awesome resources, some of these awesome tips that they can use,” Mendez said. “… If they want, [they can] go into the community and do these … teaching young adults or just giving back to anyone that needs that help and that support.”