Richardson Law School student will work as summer intern on Capitol Hill

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: May 15, 2014

The Ahu family in Miloli`i, with Janna standing on porch at right near pillar.
The Ahu family in Miloli`i, with Janna standing on porch at right near pillar.
Janna "Wehi" Ahu
Janna "Wehi" Ahu

William S. Richardson School of Law student Janna Wehilani "Wehi" Ahu, whose family comes from the tiny fishing village of Miloli‘i on Hawai‘i Island, has been named the 2014 Patsy T. Mink Legislative Fellow.  She receives a $5,000 stipend from the Law School to pay for a summer internship in Washington D.C., working in the office of U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono for 10 weeks.

Ahu is completing her first year at Richardson Law School on the UH Mānoa campus, and was inspired to study law because of problems faced by the small village of 400 people who struggle to maintain their traditional culture around subsistence fishing and hunting.

"I want to focus on fisheries management, and I came to law school to learn how to keep our fisheries healthy," said Ahu.  She is particularly hopeful about trying to get funding to help protect the fishery of tiny opelu in the waters off Miloli‘i.

Ahu first learned to speak Hawaiian from her grandmother, a native speaker, and continued her studies at Kamehameha and UH Manoa.  Her childhood was spent both in Hilo and with in Miloli‘i.

This is the 12th anniversary of the landmark fellowship launched by UH law students in 2002, the year of Mink’s death, to honor her legacy and to provide an extraordinary educational experience.  The Mink Fellowship, which has helped chart the careers of past recipients, provides an extraordinary opportunity to participate in leadership at the national level.  Awardees are encouraged to research areas in which they are particularly interested.

One of Congresswoman Mink’s crowning achievements in her 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives was the co-authorship and passage of Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 that provided women equal access to opportunities in education. Mink was a force for gender and racial equality, partly fueled by discrimination she suffered as a young professional woman. “I can’t change the past,” Mink often said, “but I can certainly help somebody else in the future so they don’t have to go through what I did.”

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