By Kiana Dulan | Staff Writer

Three weeks before the start of the King William Charles Lunalilo Scholarship Program in June 2020, faculty found themselves scrambling to revamp the program because of Covid-19. Funded by the Kaneta Foundation, this program’s summer bridge that was originally six days long turned into six weeks long to better cultivate remote camaraderie among the scholars, incoming freshmen who had been selected for the program that helps them successfully transition to college and succeed while in college.

Program director LaVaché Scanlan credited the “awesome” faculty for quickly transforming the scholarship program from in-person to online. She mentioned that faculty was hesitant to experiment with the length of the program since they did not want to lose the bonding opportunity that scholars naturally take advantage of despite initially applying with different motivations.

Jade Lum, a first-year Liberal Arts major, is a recipient of this scholarship and said she originally applied for this program for financial reasons.

“I knew that my parents wouldn’t help me financially with college,” Lum said. “So at the time, I was just really applying to any scholarship I could find because I didn’t have that kind of money. … Covid-19 was really big back then, so it wasn’t like I could get a job because a lot of places were closing down.”

Although money was at the forefront of Lum’s mind, she quickly realized that she joined more than just a scholarship program. Through Zoom, she came to know her fellow scholars, teacher, and program director, all of whom now make up the supportive community Lum is familiar with. She admits that it was different experiencing class through Zoom and was rather surprised that she made friends.

In the summer, about 70 scholars attended a mandatory program over the span of six weeks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Now in their fall semester, the scholars attend the course’s complimentary lab, held weekly through Zoom meetings.

During this Zoom class, scholars not only meet with their classmates and teacher but also their peer mentors who were previous Lunalilo scholars. These labs provide scholars the opportunity to join breakout rooms, allowing a personal conversation with their peers during class whereas they might have a conversation anytime they want if in-person.

Scholars meet twice a week with their peer mentors. Along with the weekly lab, scholars and peer mentors also have weekly one-on-one meetings with each other, which used to be in-person but is now also through Zoom. With six scholars that he has to facilitate, Aki said he doesn’t entirely enjoy working around everyone’s schedules but finds his overall experience as both fun and challenging.

During this Zoom class, scholars not only meet with their classmates and teacher but also their peer mentors who were previous Lunalilo scholars. Leslee Aki, who is a second-year KapCC student and peer mentor, transferred from Kaua’i Community College for the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, joined the Lunalilo Scholars program and quickly came to know the supportive Lunalilo community.

Comparing last year’s program to this year’s, Aki said this year’s scholars missed out on the summer bridge and in-person events recalling the group chat and planned beach day his class made after their six-day experience. In lieu of meeting physically, current scholars have a Zoom social to attend on Nov. 14 titled “Hallothanksmas.”

Remembering his own experience, Aki expressed thanks to his peer mentor. Last year, Aki did not have a car, lived in the UH-Mānoa dorms, and played intramural football. If it weren’t for his peer mentor who usually watched the intramural football games Aki participated in, Aki would not have had a ride to these events. Aki said he tries to extend this same attitude to his own scholars by being their motivational factor, but he said car rides are off the table with social distancing and Covid restrictions.

“It’s definitely different,” Aki said. “I think in-person you develop that trust more, but that’s why as peer mentors you meet twice a week.”

For more information about the King William Charles Lunalilo Scholarship Program, click here or contact LaVaché Scanlan at or (808) 734-9371.