“We are passionate about students making a difference, engaging in community, and dedication to having a positive impact in the lives of others. Education is a powerful instrument to make our world a place where people can strive and live together, regardless of gender, nationality, race, and their beliefs.”
— Bernhard Kohlmeier & Lisa Ann Mikulencak
HOKU RIVERA, an English & Anthropology major in the Honors Program, is the 2nd recipient of the Kohlmeier Mikulencak scholarship. This year’s scholarship was awarded in honor of Arthur Poznanski (1927-2009), a Holocaust survivor who lost most of his family during the Nazis’ attempt to exterminate the European Jews. He survived Buchenwald concentration camp, starvation, and slave labor to ultimately escape from a transport despite being severely wounded. After the war, living in England, he dedicated his life to his community and to educating youth about discrimination and bigotry. A wonderful father and husband, his legacy is a true inspiration for generations to come.
Hoku’s application rose to the top as she offered a broadminded and expressive response to the application’s supplemental question, “When have you stood up for an individual or a group of people in a meaningful way and made a difference to that group?” Hoku’s leadership and organizational skills shine as she describes her involvement with the March 24th, 2018 March for Our Lives; a peaceful demonstration against our nation’s gun violence and for more stringent gun regulation.
Prior to the march, Hoku connected with various civic groups to encourage their involvement, spoke at meetings, organized youth volunteers, interacted with the media, and coordinated booth hosts. Yet her work didn’t stop there, Hoku said, “speaking of the march itself, I was the first there and the last to leave.” At the end of the event, Hoku conducted post-event clean-up, thanked the individuals in the host booths, and gathered over 700 letters and postcards that were destined for our public officials.
Hoku is clearly a well-organized leader, and her humanity shines further still as she discusses her accomplishments and commitment to making a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Here, she graciously shares the accolades for the successful civic event, saying “considering that the march was nearly cancelled due to lack of organization two weeks prior to the event, which is when I joined, I am really proud of what all of us were able to accomplish.”
These are some of the words that stand-out to describe Hoku by those who know her, and are attributes that will serve the 2018-2019 Kohlmeier Mikulencak Scholarship recipient, and the greater community, well as she progresses through her senior year at WWU. Already, organizations such as Western’s Amnesty International and the Teaching-Learning Academy have benefited from this purpose-driven and generous individual.
We here at the Wolpow Institute look forward to getting to know you better over the next year, and we remain grateful that a generous donation from the Kohlmeier Mikulencak family is available to assist students, like you, with their multi-faceted educational pursuits.