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Zonta Hilo Awards $2,500 to Young Women Pursing Higher Education

The Zonta Club of Hilo presented $2,500 in scholarships and awards to five outstanding Hawaii Island young women at the club’s June monthly business meeting. Three high school seniors were recognized for the Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) award and two University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH) students were awarded nursing scholarships.

 “Zonta Club of Hilo service chair Julie Tulang with the club’s 2016 nursing scholarship winner Poki‘i Balaz, club president Tonya Ozone and YWPA 2016 award recipients Makena Wagner, Zoi Nakamura and Cassidy Kelii.”

“Zonta Club of Hilo service chair Julie Tulang with the club’s 2016 nursing scholarship winner Poki‘i Balaz, club president Tonya Ozone and YWPA 2016 award recipients Makena Wagner, Zoi Nakamura and Cassidy Kelii.”

The YWPA award recognizes young women committed to volunteering, who demonstrate leadership skills and are dedicated to empowering women and girls. Applicants are asked to reflect on their volunteer work and problems limiting advancement of the status of women in their community and worldwide.

  • Makena Wagner, a senior at Kamehameha High School, received the first place $500 YWPA award. “Finding ways to give back is not just good for self-esteem, but it leaves one wanting to do more,” said Wagner, who will be attending Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
  • Waiakea High School junior Zoi Nakamura was second place for YWPA and received $400. “I’ve set my mind on completing a course of study that’s based on service; that’s why I chose the Public Service Academy at school,” said Nakamura.
  • Third place for YWPA and $300 went to Cassidy Kelii, a senior at Kamehameha High School. Kelii will pursue a degree in political science on the mainland and said she will return to Hawaii to practice law. Kelii is president of an all-girl construction club.
  • Kealohaku‘ualohaku‘upoki‘i “Poki‘i” Balaz, who is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice at UH Hilo, received the club’s $1,000 nursing scholarship. Balaz said taking care of her parents inspired her to specialize in geriatric care. Balaz earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from UH Manoa and Master of Science in nursing from Oklahoma City University.
  • Carola Geitner, a junior pursuing her Bachelor of Science in nursing at UH Hilo, was second place for the nursing scholarship and received a $300 cash award. Geitner, who was responsible for the health and well-being of her younger sister at the age of seven, says the sense of caring and desire to look after people and their health fueled her interest in wanting to become a nurse.

About Zonta Club of Hilo
The Zonta Club of Hilo was founded in 1950 and is part of Zonta International, a global organization whose mission is to empower women through service and advocacy. To learn more about the club’s service projects, special events, advocacy efforts and scholarship opportunities, visit zontahilo.org. Facebook // Instagram @ZontaHIlo

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