We all know that paying for college or other higher education is expensive. And though applying for financial aid is supposed to be helpful, the options can get overwhelming. Your guidance counselor or parents may have encouraged you to apply for scholarships, but what exactly are they? Scholarships help students pay for expenses such as tuition and books. Unlike other forms of financial aid such as loans, scholarships don’t have to be paid back.
We talked to Christina Rivera, college and career counselor at University Laboratory School, who shared tips and tricks for applying and winning scholarships. Plus, see if you’re eligible for an HMSA Kaimana Scholarship and how to apply if you are.
Though applying for scholarships may seem like a lot of work for something uncertain, that free money is worth it. According to Rivera, many high school students mistakenly think that they’re not eligible for a scholarship. “Don’t be intimidated,” she says. “College is expensive. Any aid will be helpful and it doesn’t hurt to apply.”
Scholarship application tips and tricks
Rivera knows that applying for scholarships can be time consuming, so she shared a few tips to help:
- Don’t procrastinate. Apply as early as possible! Don’t wait until the last minute to gather your documents, fill out the applications, request your transcripts or recommendation letters, or write your personal statement or essay. If you’re in a rush, you’re more likely to make mistakes or overlook something that could cost you the scholarship.
- Slow down. Follow the instructions carefully. Some organizations will disregard an application if it’s incomplete or filled out incorrectly.
- Keep it together. Each scholarship has a different deadline, so keep track of deadlines with a calendar or spreadsheet that includes deadlines, required documents, application instructions, and contact information. If you need to mail a hard-copy application, be sure you have the necessary supplies such as envelopes and postage.
- Don’t be shy. If you need help with any part of the process, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Have someone you trust read and proofread your application and essays. If they give you feedback, accept it as constructive criticism to improve instead of getting defensive.
- Cast a wide net. Apply for as many scholarships as possible.
Look for local scholarships
There are many scholarships available from local companies and organizations, one of which is the HMSA Kaimana Awards & Scholarship Program. For the past 19 years, HMSA has invested in the next generation of Hawaii's leaders through this program. It awards up to 15 students $5,000 scholarships each for excellence in academics, athletics, community service, healthy activities, and sportsmanship.
To be eligible for an HMSA Kaimana Scholarship, applicants must:
- Graduate from a Hawaii high school in 2024 with a 2.75 or higher GPA.
- Have participated in at least one Hawaii High School Athletic Association league-sanctioned sport during one or more of their high school years.
- Have participated in community service projects in addition to school activities during their high school years.
- Submit an official transcript.
- Submit two letters of recommendation from school faculty, mentors, or coaches.
- Write a personal statement and essay about community and well-being.
Check out this video for more tips on applying for a Kaimana Scholarship.
The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23. For more information, visit hmsa.com/kaimana. Good luck!
Read about students who’ve won a Kaimana Scholarship and find out how it helped them achieve academically and beyond.
first look: previous Kaimana Scholarship winners
See how Kaimana Scholarship Awards supported these four previous winners and be sure to check out their in-depth profiles in the spring 2022 issue of Island Scene.
During the pandemic, HMSA continued to award Kamana Scholarships, but the celebratory luncheon was put on hold. In 2022, the in-person event returned for the first time in three years. See the highlights of the day and be sure to check out the video recapping 17 years of the program.
the power of physical fitness
Each year, public school fifth graders in the Honolulu District participate in a pre- and post-fitness test. We stopped by a Roosevelt Complex post fitness meet to watch the kids in action. We also caught up with Vinson Diep, M.D., a former Kaimana Scholarship winner who’s now a pediatrician, to discuss how to keep the whole family healthy and active.