Ambassadors of Aloha: Stupski’s Newest Intern Cohort Represents Hawaiʻi With Pride

Part 1: Meet Four Hawaiʻi Youth Leaders Joining Stupski’s Internship Program

Greetings readers! Today, I am taking the Stupski mic to introduce myself and my fellow interns from Hawai‘i who are joining the newest chapter of Stupski’s internship program. As the largest group of interns yet, our cohort enters during a pivotal stage in the Foundation’s journey. Halfway through its spend down, Stupski is working to deepen relationships with the communities it calls home in Hawai‘i and the San Francisco Bay Area, communities where my fellow interns and I were born and raised. One of the things that drew me to Stupski was the Foundation’s belief that communities can best determine where funds will make lasting change. As youth who are often closest to the issues the Foundation cares about, we have critical perspectives to inform Stupski’s funding priorities. Among our cohort, four of us hail from Hawai‘i, proudly representing the islands of O‘ahu, Maui, and Lāna‘i, respectively. 

In this blog post, you’ll meet each Hawai‘i-based intern and learn more about the communities and causes that we are passionate about. As Maile Boggeln, postsecondary success manager at Stupski, shares, “By bringing their unique perspectives and lived experiences, Stupski is grateful to have these passionate and driven students provide needed insight into how our philanthropy can be more responsive and relevant to the needs of communities across Hawai‘i.” 

Please join me in welcoming the Hawai‘i interns in our fourth cohort!

Talia Lei Agliam

“If I were to become the governor of Hawai’i for one day, the first law I would enact would be to protect the native and sacred Hawaiian lands from being destroyed or modernized by preventing it from falling into the hands of non-Hawaiians or nonlocal residents.”

Talia Lei Agliam (she/her) is a junior at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa studying sociology and law and society. A 2023 graduate of Lāna‘i High School, Talia had the honor of being senior class president, valedictorian, and Miss Lāna‘i Teen USA 2022-2023. When asked about what attracted her to Stupski, Talia pointed to the “selfless and passionate minds” she saw collaboratively working to further social good in both her community and the San Francisco Bay Area. As an intern for the grantmaking team, Talia looks to become familiar with the essential steps of the funding process while gaining valuable experience in creative problem-solving.

As a member of the Hawai‘i community, Talia sees housing as one of the biggest challenges facing her people. She argues that there is a pressing need for open dialogue about resource redistribution within the Islands to return lands to their rightful owners. Talia believes that Stupski’s internship program is vital because it allows the Foundation to tap into the mindset and ideas of a generation for whom social problems are shaping and informing their intuitions.

McKenzie Pu

“We, as the voices of a younger generation, provide valuable insight and personal experience with the issues that our society faces and what needs to be done to address them.”

McKenzie Pu (she/her) is a senior at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where she is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in psychology, with a minor in sociology. One of her notable accomplishments was graduating as valedictorian from Hāna High School on the east side of Maui. During this internship, McKenzie hopes to learn more about the philanthropic sector and make new connections with people whose work aligns with her aspirations for greater educational opportunities for Hawai‘i’s youth. As Stupski’s Hawai‘i postsecondary success intern, McKenzie wants to positively impact her community by improving Hawai‘i’s public school system, tailoring mental health resources to local needs, and motivating Hawaiʻi’s youth to pursue educational excellence. Beyond her focus area, McKenzie believes that all of the issues Stupski addresses are of equal importance and that a holistic approach to philanthropy is the best framework to address the interconnected issues of education, health, and equity.

Bethany Senn

“We have the energy to continue the meaningful work that older generations have been laboring at, and we have the incentive to do so because it is ultimately our lives that will be impacted by the action or inaction.”

Bethany Senn (she/her) is a junior at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa studying English and religious traditions with a certificate in peace and conflict resolution. When asked about what attracted her to the internship, Bethany pointed to Stupski’s value-driven approach and its overall vision as areas that resonated deeply with her own worldview.

As an intern for the communications team, she looks forward to improving her social media management and video production skills through exposure to new and different projects. With this opportunity, Bethany hopes to give the people of Hawai‘i a platform to share their authentic selves and stories without fear of misrepresentation.

Johann Olander

“Stupski’s dedication to uplifting youth voices through their internship program has motivated me to think long and hard about the leadership role that my generation is expected to fill. By leaning on the expertise and knowledge of our elders, we can work together to create a more just and equitable society.”

Johann Olander (he/him) was born and raised on Oahu and is now a senior at Santa Clara University studying philosophy and political science. When he first applied to be a communications intern with Stupski, he believed that having his feet planted in both Hawaii and the Bay Area would give him a unique perspective on each community he calls home.

Despite what he sees to be tremendous contrast between the two communities, cultural and otherwise, he has been shocked to learn just how much overlap exists between the issues that each community faces. The systemic nature of these problems has led him to realize the importance of youth leadership and political advocacy in changing future conditions for the better.

On the Horizon

Aside from a deeply held desire to learn and grow as individuals, the common thread that ties Stupski’s Hawaii interns together is our shared commitment to the communities that have made us who we are. Being raised in Hawai‘i goes beyond simply valuing the land and its gifts; it includes a holistic approach to life where the dynamic interplay of people and places can persist only when each person owns up to their roles and responsibilities. As the newest members of the Stupski team, we value this type of thinking because it implies a number of beliefs that we hold dear:

  • Collaboration is the basis for producing change.
  • Giving back is a necessity.
  • The time for doing so is now.