• Alaka`ina Foundation

Scholarships Helped Me Pursue My Passion

University of Hawai'i Foundation. Article by Koa Flagg

Koa Flagg is a graduate of the Fire Science program at Honolulu Community College. He was a 2021-2022 recipient of the Hawai‘i Fire Chiefs Association Scholarship and the Alaka‘ina Foundation UH Community College Scholarship. This is his thank-you letter to donors.


Thank you so much for the Hawaii Fire Chiefs Association Scholarship and the Alaka‘ina Foundation UH Community College Technical Education Scholarship! This gift has meant a lot to me in how much dedication and time I've been putting into the program since the first day attending classes. The reason I’m in this program is because I want to be a firefighter like my mom’s brother, who is currently in the fire department.

I chose to follow his passion when I was six years old. Before attending Honolulu Community College, I attended the University of Denver for four years and earned a bachelor’s degree in Natural Science and Mathematics. The reason I attended was just in case I pursued a different passion.


When I was in my last quarter of college, I was doing a bunch of circles on what I wanted to do afterwards, frustrated and in tears. On a Monday during the third week of school, I got a call from my uncle who is in the fire department. I had a happy two-hour conversation with him, filled with laughter and joy. During our talk, he mentioned the program at HCC and how he began his journey from start to finish.


After this moment, I made a lot of phone calls to Honolulu Community College and got the inside scoop on how I could attend the program at the beginning of the next year. During this time, I was on the phone with the counselor of the program every day, and he helped me transfer my transcripts from my four-year college. Two weeks later, I got an acceptance letter from the program, saying, “Congratulations, and welcome to the Fire Science Program at HCC.”

When I saw this email, I jumped up and down from my seat, in tears and filled with happiness, calling my parents and my uncle in the fire department. They were very proud of me, and they let me know how difficult the program is.


I purchased my textbooks, and I started to get my head in the game by studying during my off-time, and going to classes excited to learn, and always asking questions about the material. I’m just very happy to be around my classmates who are always putting in the work to get to the next level. I’m also excited to be taught by professors who are willing to help everyone be motivated to get to the next level.

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