Idica wins HPU4Hawaiʻi Scholarship


Photo by Riann Fujihara

Senior Kaimana Idica is awarded the Hawaiʻi Pacific University HPU4Hawaiʻi Scholarship Thursday, Dec. 15 at Kaʻulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium.

Senior Kaimana Idica received the Hawaiʻi Pacific University HPU4Hawaiʻi Scholarship Thursday, Dec. 15, at Kaʻulaheanuiokamoku Gymnasium.

“I know that I get to go to the college of my choice for free, but just winning the competition was humbling and rewarding, as well,” he said.

For the HPU Scholarship Competition, the applicants were required to write an essay and make a video about a pressing issue in Hawaiʻi. He chose the worldwide issue of marine debris prevention and talked to interim Poʻo Kula Kaleo Pahukula about converting the school’s polystyrene food containers to more eco-friendly compostable alternatives. 

In addition, Idica worked alongside the Maui Huliau Foundation, which is a non-profit environmental film-making program, and they helped him coordinate a rendition of their original #SporkItUp campaign to convince local high schools to switch their single-use plastic utensils to bamboo sporks. 

Idica said he had the support of his parents, his Maui Huliau instructor, his friends, and his girlfriend.

“Just the support from all of them, really helped push me forward because I was seriously doubting myself at the beginning of this week, if I would get [the scholarship] or not, but a lot of players played a factor in doing this competition and I thank all of them for it,” Idica said.

There were about 60 students who entered the competition, and eight of them made it to the finals. By making it to the finals, the participants earned acceptance into Hawai’i Pacific University with a one-year tuition scholarship. 

The first-place scholarship award was $112,000, which pays for all four years of Idica’s college tuition. In addition, he received a merit scholarship of $10,000 based on his grades, and along with the merit scholarship, he was given an extra $8,000 dollars for becoming a finalist. All together, Idica received $130,000 from Hawaiʻi Pacific University.

To apply for the scholarship, he dedicated a lot of time to planning, filming and editing. He even redid his entire video to make it more aesthetically pleasing, which took about 13 hours. Click here to see the video that helped him win.

“It didn’t really hit me until two days later, and then I just started bawling,” said his ecstatic mother, Ms. Gayleen Idica, who was invited to attend Thursday’s presentation along with Kaimana’s father. “I didn’t have a clue,” she said regarding being invited to school to see the award announcement.

Idica plans to take his efforts to O’ahu and the other islands when he goes to college. Ms. Idica said that there is no limit to how far-reaching his campaign can be as it spreads to “other kids on the other islands.”

Kaimana has a history of making a difference on the ecology of Maui.

Since last year, he has visited 100 different local restaurants to pitch switching to compostable clamshells to reduce the environmental impact of the “plate lunch” lifestyle. Of those, 27 switched to plant-based containers, and three of those went “platinum,” that is, they completely eliminated all non-biodegradable take-out products from cutlery, to bowls, plates, straws, and cup lids.

Idica is so passionate about the topic that he spends at least one day every weekend picking up trash on the beach at Kahului Harbor, but will pick up trash at any beach he finds himself at it. He does it to not just break the cycle of trash washing in and out of the harbor, but he says that people approach him about what he’s doing, and then he is able to spread the word about the environmental impact of plastic.

As an extension, he is using the trash to make an ocean-themed mural to donate to the Huliau Foundation.

“All of his work and effort paid off because HPU recognized what a dedicated individual he is and generously gave back to him. He definitely deserved it and words couldn’t even begin to describe how proud I am of him,” said Jessie Kanoholani, Idica’s girlfriend.

Kaimana doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk. Later that day, after refusing to eat the school lunch, which was packed in a polystyrene container, Kaimana shook his head and pointed out an odd irony after an eventful day.

“Hah! My award is printed on a board made of Styrofoam!” he said, but, both proud and relieved, he still planned on displaying the oversized award check in his room at home.