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Rudyjay Keopuhiwa '21

CS major among first graduates of Wai'anae-to-Whitworth program

Graduating from college has been a longtime goal for Rudyjay Keopuhiwa '21, but when he was finishing high school in Wai'anae, Hawai'i, he had no idea if he would be able to afford college tuition. Thanks to the Wai'anae-to-Whitworth scholarship program, he didn't have to.

This month, Keopuhiwa will celebrate his graduation. Four of his fellow scholarship recipients are also set to finish their degrees this year. They are the first students to graduate from the program, which guarantees 100 percent coverage of tuition, fees, and room and board costs for eight students per year from the Wai‘anae Coast, on O'ahu.

"It feels amazing," says Keopuhiwa, who is graduating cum laude with a degree in computer science. "It is just crazy that I am so close to achieving this goal in my life, and I hope that my family is proud of what I have done."

At Whitworth, Keopuhiwa played football for the Pirates for four years and was involved in Hawaiian Club. He has also grown in his faith through chapel. Adjusting to a new environment and academic expectations wasn't easy at first.

"The biggest challenge I faced at Whitworth was a hard transition from my high school education to Whitworth University's education. My first semester was a tough one," he says. "How I overcame this was by finding different resources like classmates, TAs and study sessions that helped me adjust."

One of the meaningful connections Keopuhiwa has made at Whitworth is his computer science professor, Pete Tucker '91. Keopuhiwa says Tucker's contacts within the industry have been a great help in his job search. "One thing I enjoy about Pete is that he will not help you unless you go out of your way to ask him," Keopuhiwa says. "This taught me to not be afraid to ask any question because if you are afraid of hearing no, then you will get the no."

After graduation, Keopuhiwa plans to enroll in the Whitworth MBA program. He is interested in becoming a video game developer and potentially creating his own gaming system. "Technology is evolving exponentially, so I believe that in the future there will be some needed changes in the game industry," he says. "Another career interest I have is network and server management. I took the Microsoft Networks class and really enjoyed everything about it."

Keopuhiwa also wants to give back to Waianae High School and is thinking of helping to bring a more robust computer program to the school. "If an actual CS program were implemented into Waianae's curriculum, I believe it would give kids who are interested in technology a chance to explore the world of computer science," he says.

Keopuhiwa wants his fellow Wai'anae-to-Whitworth members to know he is proud of each of them. "College is no easy task, and you should be proud of yourself for making it to Whitworth," he says. "Keep pushing through because it is doable!"



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