Author: Katlin Cilliers

Faithlyn Derla

20-year-old Faithlyn Derla is passionate about the fashion industry and all the contributions it can make to society. She came back to Hawai’i to take care of her general education courses, but her chosen university is the Academy of Art, in San Francisco. When complimented on her stylish clothes, she smiles and claims that, despite “dressing like a city girl”, she loves and feels most at home in the country. “I grew up fishing and hunting. I need to be in the city but really prefer the country life. Waimea, where I grew up, is very towny, and I love it.”

The first-year student aims to grow a business in which she employs women in third world countries, enabling them to get an education and a career. “[Fashion] has always been about artwork. Fashion is art. So how can you show your love of it, but not hurt others in the process?”

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Stefan Cranston

Stefan Cranston

Age: 18

Hometown: Honolulu, O‘ahu

Major: Life Sciences

Stefan Cranston is a first-year student at KCC who intends to go to Pre-Med school. He loves to help people and believes that being a doctor is the best way to do it. He was also influenced to choose Medical school by the wish to help his own family members with their health issues.

He playfully describes his hometown as “where his heart is”, but he is originally from Portugal and has made Hawai‘i his home for now. Stefan is quite adventurous: he enjoys cliff jumping in his free time. He says that it’s the way he’s found to face his own fear of heights, pushing himself to go further and higher every time. “Every time I am on top of the jump, I think I am about to die…but I convince myself: it’s just gravity. I just need self-control, [I just need to] trust myself and…pull through.”

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Savanah Mecchella

Born in Georgia and raised in the valleys of California, Savanah Mecchella is working towards a degree in Liberal Arts (Occupational Therapy) while juggling her responsibilities as a member of the military police. Her decision to join the Army Corps happened on a whim: she was recruited right off high school and did not give it much thought at the time.

“Military was never in my mind, until a recruiter came and talked to me,” she said.

Although she didn’t think she would like the army life at first, Savanah decided to give it a go. Nowadays, she is glad she made that decision, because it has helped her achieve goals and do things she has never done before, such as overcoming physical limitations, practicing shooting and pushing herself in terms of discipline.

“I have gained a lot of strength from that, and training was an experience that pushed my limits like never before,” she said.

When asked about the current political scenario and the possibility of short-notice deployment, Savanah reinforces her loyalty to the troops.

“Although it’s not something that I look forward to, that’s what I signed up for,” she said. “I would just have to trust my fellow soldiers … and my unit, that everything is going to be OK. It’s something that we have to do.”

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Voices & Views

  • Erika MatsuiErika Matsui
    Erika Matsui is a 35-year-old first-year Natural Science/Biology major from Tagimi, Japan (Gifu Prefecture). Before moving to Hawai'i, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design and began work as an aesthetician and hair stylist. Matsui, whose father was previously a guest geophysics researcher at UH-Mānoa, decided to continue her studies here, beginning at KCC. “I am appreciative and glad to be a student at KCC," Matsui said, "and my fathers' peers recommended I begin here. ... The instructors offer a better atmosphere for learning, they told me." Working as an aesthetician and hair stylist, Matsui became concerned with only being able to treat the symptoms of the chronic skin disease and alopecia. She wants to do more and be able to treat the underlying cause of the symptoms, to find a cure. “Observing my father, how he studied and how he approached his research, he inspired me to want to be a biomedical researcher ... so that I can really help these people," she said. Matsui is currently working on her prerequisites so that she can begin her graduate studies at UH Mānoa and to eventually earn a doctorate in either Microbiology or Molecular Biology and Bio-engineering.