First-year student and bowler majoring in business, Noah Akiona is a long way from home.
Akiona hails from Hawaii in a town called Waimānalo on the east side of the island O‘ahu. He attends Newman University with the help of a bowling scholarship and first heard about Newman through a senior bowler who is also from Hawaii, Chasten Pojas.
Akiona and Pojas both go back as he said they “practically grew up together in the bowling alley.”
“His dad was my main coach and so we would always hang out and go on trips,” Akiona said.
Along with Akiona, two other freshmen also come from Hawaii. One of them is Akiona’s roommate and fellow bowling teammate, Chavous Kuamo’O-Malama, and the other is women’s team bowler Carianne Takeuchi.
Kuamo’O-Malama is majoring in sports media and promotion and said the Newman community has welcomed him with open arms.
“Being here so far the community has made me comfortable, I can socialize with anybody here and it’s just helping me grow,” Kuamo’O-Malama said.
Akiona said one of the reasons he came to Newman was because he wanted to leave Hawaii and see what the mainland was like. Akiona said the biggest difference between Waimānalo and Wichita is that the buildings are “more cramped together” in Hawaii, while in Wichita, “everything is more spread out.”
Akiona’s plans after graduation are to earn his master’s degree and move west, possibly in California or back home in Hawaii.
“After that I want to become a real estate developer,” Akiona said.
On the Newman campus, Akiona is involved with both the bowling team and the Multicultural Leadership Organization. He says he has enjoyed his time at Newman so far and enjoys the family feel of campus life.
“A lot of the people are super friendly and want to help each other out. It makes me feel at home because back home growing up, the culture that we were raised in is to help other people out and was about being close to family,” Akiona said.
“My favorite part of Newman is that I think it’s the perfect size. You’re able to get to know your teachers better and make connections better. So I would say I like the smaller environment that this college offers.”
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Newman University is a Catholic university named for St. John Henry Newman and founded by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ for the purpose of empowering graduates to transform society.