By Shawna Takaki | Staff Writer

Jalen Lee is a 20-year-old student attending Kapiʻolani Community College. He’s majoring in Liberal Arts and is in his second year here. He has yet to decide on what he wants to do in the future and is exploring it here, slowly trying to find his path.

“I’m just hoping maybe I can find something, someday, that I’ll be interested in,” Lee said.

Lee grew up in Japan, attending elementary and middle school there. As a half-Black, half-Japanese student, it was a tough experience at first. Eventually, he made friends and did sports during his school life in Japan, but he decided it wasn’t the best fit for him and decided to come to America for high school. Lee enjoyed meeting people of many different cultures.

“It’s so good to learn about other people’s experiences, because you can use it,” Lee said.

He entered high school in Wisconsin. During his freshman year, he at first struggled due to English being new to him. The classes overloaded him because it was too much English for him at the time.

Lee went to another high school in search of a better place for him and moved to California. His grades skyrocketed, and his high school life improved, but just as things began to settle, Covid-19 hit. Lee ended up moving back to Japan and continuing his studies through online school, graduating virtually.

His mother previously came to Hawaiʻi for college, and he decided to follow in her footsteps and get immersed in the culture here.

He loves the nature, beaches, and seafood here, among other things.

“After coming to Hawaiʻi, I’ve learned that my life has so many things ahead of me, and I was rushing too much,” said Lee. “I realized I should take it step by step.”