“At the beginning of my freshman year, I joined the Hawaii Club so I could get to know other native Hawaiians and people who are interested in my culture,” says University of Redlands accounting major Sarah Ikioka ’20. “Being a part of that Hawaiian community on campus has been a great experience for me and it has made me appreciate my culture more.”
As a native Hawaiian student from Wailuku, Haw., Ikioka knew she wanted attend a smaller college. “I didn’t want to go to a school where I was only going to be a number—I wanted to meet my professors and get to know my classmates,” says Ikioka. “I can approach any of my classmates with a question and they’ll be willing to help me.”
Ikioka appreciates that her culture is recognized in the classroom. “If I wear something with a Hawaiian word or logo on it, my religion professor, Bill Maury-Holmes, is always quick to ask me a question about it,” she says. “I love that people are curious and not critical about who I am and where I come from.”
A recipient of the 2017 San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Excellence in Leadership Scholarship, Ikioka acknowledges the importance of distinguishing among different native cultures. “It’s great how the University of Redlands and Native Student Programs recognize other native cultures, such as mine,” she says. “I was really grateful to receive such a prestigious scholarship.”
Ikioka was recruited to play tennis for the University of Redlands and found success in her first year on the team. As the team’s number one single’s player, Ikioka collected an All-American award and was a member of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's All-Academic team.
“Playing at the top of the lineup allowed me to qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association national tournament in singles and doubles,” she says. “Being on the tennis team has taught me how to manage my time and prioritize my responsibilities.”
Playing tennis for the University has been a formative experience for Ikioka. “Being a collegiate athlete has taught me so much,” she says. “Going from playing junior tennis to the collegiate level taught me that I’m not playing for myself, but for my team. That’s something I never got to experience until I got to college, and playing for something bigger than myself has truly shaped my character."