Aloha. My name is Naftali Tolibas, a grateful recipient of the Scholarship Foundation of the Pacific. I am currently in my fourth-year at the University of Hawaii at Manoa pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
My parents grew up on a farm in a rural area of the Philippines. When they migrated here to Hawaii in 1990, they sacrificed a lot and worked extremely hard in search of the “American Dream”. They always emphasized education as the key to escaping a “hard life”, so I worked really hard and put in the hours, studied, drank coffee (which I love), to ensure I kept my grades up. My freshman year of high school I set a goal for myself to be the Valedictorian, get a full ride to college and work towards being an engineer. Honestly, I never thought I could achieve these goals, but I focused on the little things, went to school early, completed all of my assignments and it was all of these little things that added up and got me to where I am today. I am proud to say that I have achieved many of these goals.
When I found out I was awarded the Scholarship Foundation of the Pacific, I was out with friends and could barely contain my happiness. I was unsure if getting good grades and being involved so many activities was worth the stress because I still didn’t know how I would’ve paid for school. I thought, if I spent that time getting a job, then I’d be able to save up for college. I was originally going to have to start at the Community College level and work during school to save up and pay once I got to the University level. So when I received the news about the scholarship and went home and broke the news to my parents, they were so proud. I still remember my dad grabbing me and said in our native Tagalog language “that’s my son.” I will always remember that moment. This scholarship gave me the opportunity to focus on school, and not worry about the stresses of finances, which has always been a concern for my family.
I can’t be more thankful for the scholarship. It’s humbling to know that people believe in me so much as to invest their hearts into my future. It also motives me to be the best version of myself. I have plans to do the same as a Mechanical Engineer, and would like to also create a fund for kids in the town of Waipahu where I currently live to have the same opportunity I did.
Mahalo to all the donors for creating a positive impact in the lives of students and giving us the reassurance that hard work truly pays off.