The University of Hawaii at Manoa Student-Athlete Spotlight honorees are nominated by academic advisers, based on the following criteria:
- Effort and Excellence in Academics
- Dedication to Team
- Campus Involvement
- Community Service
- Ability to serve as a role model for current and future Hawaii student-athletes
Men's Golf |Environmental Soil Sciences| Fall 2020 Round 2
Cole Yoshida is a Senior on the Men’s Golf team who grew up in Redondo Beach, California and much of his family is from Maui and the Big Island. Cole will graduate in Spring 2021 with a degree in Tropical Agriculture and the Environment with a focus in Environmental Soil Sciences. Cole is a hard working student and has earned Dean’s List Honors the last two semesters. According to his SAAS academic advisor, Garrett Clanin, “Cole has always been willing to challenge himself and search for opportunities to learn that best prepare him for his future goals. It has been a pleasure to work with Cole and I look forward to watching him pursue his journey to become a Golf Course Superintendent.” After graduation, Cole plans to take a full-time position as an Assistant Superintendent and Spray Technician for a golf course. When Cole is not playing golf or studying, he is usually fishing or surfing.
Football|Finance & International Business| Fall 2020 Round 2
Stan Gaudion, a member of the UH Mānoa Football team, productively served the team (since 2016) in two important roles throughout his time here in Hawaii as a punter and holder. He arrived in Hawaiʻi by way of Melbourne, Australia. Stan has consistently been a dedicated and enthusiastic student. Stan completed his undergraduate with a double major in Business (Finance and International Business) while minoring in Economics. Stan is currently a graduate student in Finance Masters of Business Administration program here at the Shidler School of Business. We chose Stan for the Student-Athlete Spotlight due to his academic accomplishments, his dedication, spirit, and overall excellence. Stanʻs positivity and good-naturedness make him an outstanding and very valuable member of the football team. His dedication, hard work, and positivity are what makes Stan such a special student and person. His academic advisors Penny-Bee Bovard and Courtney Tsumoto are very proud of him, and we anxiously await hearing of his future accomplishments and endeavors.
Women's Golf|Chemistry| Fall 2020 Round 2
Tyra Tonkahm is a member of the women’s golf team and is scheduled to graduate in Spring 2020 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. Tyra’s tremendous work ethic in the classroom and on the golf course allows her to excel in both arenas. She intends to pursue a master’s program next fall. Kari Ambrozich, Tyra’s academic advisor says, “Tyra is a driven individual that works hard for what she wants. She is able to handle the academic rigor in the chemistry program with the demands of the Wahine golf program with apparent ease. I am so proud of the work she has done in the classroom and on the golf course. She is a great example of what it means to be a student-athlete and deserves recognition for her efforts! I am excited to see what her future impact will be in our community.”
Cheer|Civil Engineering| Fall 2020 Round 2
Ashley T. Koza, resides in Mililani, ‘Ōahu. As a 2018 graduate of Mililani High School, she earned three varsity letters in Cheer and one in Golf. She helped lead the Mililani Trojans to state varsity Cheer Large Division State Championships in 2017 and 2018. Ashley continues to be a force to be reckoned with, as a member and leader on the Cheer Team at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Additionally, Ashley is majoring in Civil Engineering and is a dedicated and hardworking student-athlete. Her ability to manage her time in the classroom as well as on the field is a wonderful example for her teammates and fellow students to emulate and esteem. Ashley has been nominated for this prestigious award for her academic competitiveness and drive for excellence, as well as the leadership qualities she displays participating in numerous community service programs. Ashely’s academic advisors, Courtney Tsumoto and Penny-Bee Kapilialoha Bovard add, “All you have to do is go and watch Ashley cheer and you will witness her ‘energy, passion and style.’ Though I only had a brief opportunity to share in Ashley’s academic journey, I have come to know her to be an extremely diligent, dependable, and dedicated student-athlete. Ashely’s team members would say that she has so many wonderful qualities. She is a stellar student, a positive role-model, and both possesses and demonstrates the qualities of a graceful leader. I also want to add that whenever she enters my office, her positive energy always puts a smile on my face. My journey with Ashley has been enriched and empowered by her CHEER-fullness, on the field and especially in the classroom, and in life.” Ashley epitomizes what it means to be nominated for the Student-Athlete Spotlight and deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated for her outstanding achievements.
Soccer |Business Administration| Fall 2020 Round 1
Cristina Drossos, is a blogger, fashion designer, business major and a driving force on the field. All those traits describe Cristina and more. Cristina, an El Dorado, California native is in her senior season as a dependable and dynamic defender for the Rainbow Wahine Soccer team, and leader and a captain of the team. Cristina stated that as a captain, she wants to be “available, lead and support” her teammates. She does this with “energy, passion, and style” the three qualities in which she describes her blog. Cristina has been nominated for this award for her academic competitiveness and drive for excellence, as well as the leadership qualities she displays participating in numerous community service programs. Cristina’s academic advisor Penny-Bee adds, “All you have to do is go watch Cristina play soccer and you will witness her energy, passion and style. though I only had a brief opportunity to share in Cristina’s academic journey, I have come to know her to be an extremely diligent, dependable, and dedicated student-athlete. Cristina’s team members would say that she has so many wonderful qualities. She is a stellar student, a positive role-model, and both possesses and demonstrates the qualities of a passionate leader. I also want to add that whenever she enters my office, her positive energy always puts a smile on my face. Cristina has steered her educational voyage with great awareness, vision and purpose. So although, my journey with Cristina may have been short, it has been enriched and empowered by her passionate play, on the field and especially in the classroom, and in life.”
Cross Country |Biology| Fall 2020 Round 1
Olivia Hill has proven to be a leader both in the classroom and the athletic arena. Since arriving to UH Manoa, Olivia has established herself as a role model for other student-athletes, pursuing her academic goals of ultimately attending medical school while competing athletically at the highest level. Her academic excellence is further supported by her selflessness to use her knowledge in the support of the rest of the student-athlete community, as she works as a peer-tutor for student-athletes. Olivia’s academic advisor, Justin Clapp, adds, “Olivia’s consistent pursuit of excellence is contagious to both her fellow teammates and her classmates. Olivia is a perfect example of an individual setting challenging goals for themselves, and rising to the challenge. I have no doubt she has a bright future, and UHM will be lucky to have her among its alumni.”
Football |Biology | Fall 2020 Round 1
Hekili Keliiliki is a member of the University of Hawaiʻi Football team. Hekili was born and spent most of his life in Utah. Hekili comes to us from Arkansas, where he attended high school. He exemplifies, in so many ways, what it means to be a leader and role model. Inspired to help others and continue to serve his community, Hekili chose Biology as a major. We are certain he has a very bright future in the medical profession. Hekili also served in a church mission to Australia, where he learned Mandarin. A double major in both Biology and Chinese, Hekili proves to be an outstanding student in diverse subject areas. Hekili was nominated for this award for his wonderful character, work ethic, diligence, and outstanding performance in the classroom. His academic advisors Courtney, Penny-Bee, and Katharine wish him nothing but the very best in all future endeavors and know he will continue to contribute to the world in so many positive and meaningful ways.
Women’s Volleyball |Human Development/Family Studies| Fall 2020 Round 1
Skyler Williams is a member of the women’s volleyball team and is in her final year of the Human Development and Family Studies degree program. Ms. Williams’ is a model student-athlete, combining her interests in working with children and young adults while capitalizing on opportunities to engage with young people through athletic activities. Ms. Williams’ is equally successful on and off the volleyball court, earning Big-West all-conference and all-academic honors last year. Ms. Williams is the first in her immediate family to attend a 4-year university and is on track to graduate in Spring 2021. Kari Ambrozich, Ms. Williams’ academic advisor says, “Skyler has a magnetism that draws people to her. I am so proud of the work she has done in the classroom and on the court. She is a great example of what it means to be a student-athlete and deserves recognition for her efforts in the classroom! I believe that her personality, charisma, and experience will enable her to engage and mentor the youth in our community in ways most of us cannot. I am excited to see what her future impact will be.”
Baseball |Communications & Economics| Spring 2020 Round 3
Calvin Turchin, a Pitcher on the Baseball team from Federal Way, Washington, is majoring in Communications and minoring in Economics. Calvin is a dedicated student-athlete who has been a scholar-athlete each year and a Dean’s List awardee each semester he has been at UHM. Upon graduation, Calvin plans to pursue a career in Financial Planning or Public Relations. His SAAS academic advisor, Garrett Clanin, states, “Calvin is steadfast in his commitment to his education and he is very hard working and humble. I look forward to following his career path and have no doubt he will be successful in whichever path he chooses.” In his free time, Calvin enjoys hiking and golfing.
Men’s Tennis | Finance & International Business | Spring 2020 Round 3
Lucas Labrunie, from Paris, France, is a member of the Men’s Tennis team and is a double major in Finance and International Business. Lucas is an extremely diligent student-athlete who is one of the university’s most elite students. He is a multiple Top Scholar for UHM’s top academic team and he maintains a 3.92 GPA. According to his SAAS academic advisor, Garrett Clanin, “Lucas is one of the most determined, goal-oriented, and passionate students I have ever worked with. He will have much success as he pursues a career as a Financial Analyst in Investment Banking and Asset Management for a large bank and financial institution.” When Lucas is not playing tennis or studying, he can be found playing soccer, hiking, or going to the beach.
Softball | Marine Biology | Spring 2020 Round 3
“Sami” Samantha Thomas was born in Honolulu, Hawai’i and moved to Texas when she was three years old. Sami is a senior on the Wāhine Softball team and is majoring in marine biology. Samie is Smart, Articulate, she is an incredible Mentor, and always Inspiring. Sami has been on the Dean’s List for an amazing six semesters and is a senior leader on the Wāhine Softball team. Sami’s academic advisor Penny-Bee adds, “Sami is a breath of fresh air whenever she is in my office. She inspires me to be a better advisor and overall person. I am blessed to be a part of her academic journey here at UHM.” Sami is an ambitious young woman who intends to pursue postgraduate studies in the area of marine biology. She is well-deserving to be recognized and appreciated for her outstanding achievements, both on and off the field.
Mikaelah Aron Johnson-Griggs
Soccer | Biology | Spring 2020 Round 3
Mikaelah, from Beaverton, Oregon is a graduating senior, majoring in Biology. Mikaelah has been nominated for this award for her academic competitiveness and drive for excellence, as well as the leadership qualities she displays participating in numerous community service programs. She maintains a healthy balance of extracurricular activities while maintaining extraordinary good grades with a full load in biology and sciences courses. She is a Division 1 soccer player and has been team captain for her team. Mikaelah has also been very active in the community service and leadership opportunities both in Hawai’i, Oregon and Lap Paz, Bolivia. Additionally, she was awarded the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) of $2,475.00 to conduct phylogenetic analysis and genetic research on the “Evolutionary Relationships of Cave Adapted Oliarus Polyphemus Population from Hawai’i Island.” Upon graduation, she will be applying for and attending medical school focusing on pediatric oncology. Mikaelah’s academic advisor Penny-Bee adds, “Mikaelah is to me, just simply magical. She is one of those student athletes who will forever leave an imprint in both my mind and my heart. It has been an incredibly inspiring time spent with Mikaelah. She is mature, bright, and creative. She has steered her academic voyage with great awareness, vision and purpose, towards the goal of one day serving in the community as a caring and compassionate doctor of medicine. I look forward to that day.” Mikaelah epitomizes what it means to be nominated for the Student-Athlete Spotlight and deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated for her outstanding achievements.
Men’s Tennis | Finance & International Business | Spring 2020 Round 2
Tristan Martins, from Paris, France, is a Senior on the Men’s Tennis Team and is double majoring in Finance and International Business. He has been a Scholar-Athlete every year and has earned straight As in his last two semesters. According to his Academic Advisor, Garrett Clanin, “Tristan is a hard working student who has been a pleasure to work with. The development of his English Language skills over the last few years has been phenomenal and is a credit to his dedication to learning.” Tristan plans to pursue a career in Finance and/or Insurance. His hobbies include playing soccer, going to the beach, hiking, eating, traveling, and playing chess.
Women’s Tennis | KRS - Health & Exercise Science | Spring 2020 Round 2
Nikola Dolakova is a Senior on the Women’s Tennis Team and comes to UH from Slovakia. Her major is Kinesiology & Rehabilitation Science: Health & Exercise Science. She also plans to earn a minor in Business Administration. Nikola has earned Dean’s List Honors 4 times and has been a Scholar-Athlete every year. Her Academic Advisor, Garrett Clanin, states, “Nikola is a bold and honest individual who is steadfast in her commitment to education. She also serves as a tutor and monitor in the Nagatani Academic Center and her quality work is very valuable to the center and her fellow student-athletes. Nikola has a bright future and I am excited to see her achieve her goals.” Nikola plans to pursue a career in Physical Therapy and she enjoys hiking and drawing in her free time.
Diving | Interdisciplinary Studies | Spring 2020 Round 2
Lucas Cooperman quickly embraced the dynamic between academics and athletics and excelled in each category. Combining his athletic and academic interests, Lucas will graduate in August 2020 with an Interdisciplinary Degree in Sports Management. After graduating, Lucas intends to give back to his community through sharing the knowledge he has accumulated, helping to shape and improve the lives of divers in and out of the pool. If Lucas’ time at UH Manoa is any indication of his future success, he will provide a positive influence on the lives of many. His academic advisor, Justin Clapp, adds, “Lucas’ presence will be sorely missed both in the pool and in the community. He approaches each situation with positivity and determination, and serves as a leader for others.“
Water Polo | Mechanical Engineering | Spring 2020 Round 2
Mhairi Nurthen is a member of the women’s water polo team who is studying Mechanical Engineering. Ms. Nurthen is an exemplary student-athlete, earning Dean’s list honors in 4 separate semesters. In addition, Ms. Nurthen works as a math and science tutor at SAAS, providing much needed learning support for her athletic peers. Kari Ambrozich, Ms. Nurthen’s academic advisor says, “Mhairi is an amazing student-athlete. She handles the demands of her rigorous academic major and athletic commitments with seemingly effortless ease despite the high standards both programs require. She is an ambitious young woman who intends to pursue post-graduate studies in the field of mechanical engineering. She deserves to be recognized for her outstanding achievement thus far.”