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Students get taste
The legislators began the convocation by introducing themselves to the students and giving their reasons for entering public service. They then shared their opinions on local and state issues.
"We saw the beginnings of some good clash when they began to discuss traffic and taxes," said Amy Bright, upper school journalism adviser.
The two Democrats favored a light rail system that would serve as a traffic reliever. Hemmings, the lone Republican, advocated a reorganization of roadways and other options.
Many students enjoyed seeing the representatives debate.
"It was interesting to hear all their different points of views on different issues," said junior Tara Matsumura.
This convocation ended Hanalani Schools' year-long public service involvement that began with a visit from Sen. Ron Menor (D, Mililani) on Oct. 27. Menor participated in a special journalism forum and answered questions before the November general election.
Students became more involved the following semester.
On Jan. 27, Timmy Matthews, Nacira Woodard and Stephenie Kunz joined members of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools at the State Capitol for Private School Day.
After the three students attended the HAIS meeting, 11 students shadowed Menor, Hemmings, Oshiro and Yamane, as well as Reps. Lynn Finnegan (R, Mapunapuna-Foster Village) and Alex Sonson (D, Pearl City-Waipahu) .
"(Shadowing) gave me a new outlook and appreciation for our leaders in government," said Tori Okemura, a senior who shadowed Oshiro.
"This experience has showed how much these people care about their communities and the state of Hawaii," said junior Jeremy Carino, who shadowed Yamane.
Editor's note: Sophomore Brittney Olsen and junior Nacira Woodard visited the State Capitol to interview Rep. Lynn Finnegan (R, Mapunapuna-Foster Village), a Hanalani graduate, on April 15.
Brittney Olsen: Did your Hanalani education prepare you for your career in legislature?
Lynn Finnegan: Yes. Yes, it did. Hanalani was a very good experience for me. They taught me good values. It was a nurturing environment for me; it was a small school, so I got to be a part of all kinds of sports and activities as well as a very good education.
Nacira Woodard: Do you have any advice for young girls who want to join politics?
Finnegan: Young women should never feel like you can't do it or that the field is dominated by men, even though we do have a larger number of men than women. I would say to anyone who wants to get into politics that it is definitely achievable. We have a wonderful example with our governor being the first woman governor in Hawaii.
Olsen: How has being a Christian affected your career?
Finnegan: I think it's allowed me to have a strong base of not being willing to compromise my values and not being willing to compromise the basics like treating people fairly and appreciating people and relationships, and knowing that here at the capitol is not the primary purpose for my life.
Woodard: How did you get into politics?
Finnegan: When I became a wife and a mom, I realized life is much bigger than within my household. Education for children became a passion that really fueled my motivation for getting involved in public service. That's how it initially started.
Olsen: Do you ever feel that your job affects your family life?
Finnegan: Definitely; it does affect my family life. How I deal with that is knowing that my family is priority, and God in my life is priority. Your family and your relationship with God are more important than any job could be.
Olsen: Do you plan to always be in public service? Are there other careers that interest you?
Finnegan: At this point in time I'm really open. I enjoy what I do because I think that I can make a difference within Hawaii.
Recently, I had an opportunity to work for a company that would have helped my family and me.
Because my father left my family and left us financially inept, I had decided to get a job to help support my family. This job was the way I would provide for my family.
I was denied this job by affirmative action.
I spoke with my would-be employer, and she told me she would receive a tax break if she hired a nonwhite employee.
I was in shock and could do nothing but hang up the phone.
Affirmative action was put into place to give those who were financially challenged (primarily minorities) a better chance at providing for themselves and their families. I fit all the requirements except that of race.
Because of my skin color, I was denied a job that I needed.
The workplace is not the only place this is evident. College scholarships are the same way. The affirmative action benefits are all around us, but their disadvantages are, too.
I am by no means a racist or a victim of racism.
I am a victim of society's need to fix mistakes it has made in the past. I fully support the righting of wrongs, especially those of racism.
However, something must be done to account for those who are not a minority yet still stricken with poverty.
Even white people are poor.
Disclaimer: I ask those who read this not to give charity. I am a proud person, and I will be able to provide for my family. By the grace of God and the good love of my "twin" and her family, I have the means to make money for my family. Please just keep in mind the flaws of some seemingly beneficial programs.
"Vote and be knowledgeable in politics."
"Run for an office."
"Volunteer in a library. Reading is important for young minds to develop imagination and intellectual growth."
John Brown University
"Get involved with youth groups and distressed teens -- there's a big need for that."
"Depending on the issue, volunteer where my heart wants to go and run for an elected office."
"Get involved in educational programs."
Holy Names University
"Vote; it's what our founding fathers fought for."