Hawaiian Host chocolate owners award four Kauaʻi students academic scholarships

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The nonprofit Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation has named four high school seniors from Kauaʻi as recipients of its annual legacy scholarship program. 

The Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation selected four Kauaʻi graduating seniors on Kauaʻi for academic scholarships. From top left to bottom right: Jeanine Marie Grace Longboy, Ian Ramson Garces, Mahina Dameron, and Sofia Saunders. (Courtesy of the Takitani Foundation Administration)

The foundation’s owners, Mamoru and Aiko Takitani, are the manufacturers of Hawaiian Host chocolates, which have been providing scholarships to young people in the state since 1993. The foundation says it has awarded more than $13.5 million in scholarships and academic enrichment programs to students in Hawaiʻi over the years, including $219,000 in scholarships this year.

The four Kauaʻi students were selected among a total of 59 recipients across the state, one from each of the qualifying public and independent school categories. They received scholarships based on academic achievement, community service and financial need.

“Mr. and Mrs. Takitani, founders of Hawaiian Host, knew that hard work, commitment to excellence, and a strong dedication to one’s community were key factors in their success,” said KSSK Radio personality Michael W. Perry, Chairman of the Takitani Foundation Board in a statement.  “The Takitanis wanted to recognize those same qualities in Hawaiʻi’s outstanding students with support to further their education.”


The foundation provided the following information on the four Kauaʻi award winners:

Jeanine Marie Grace Longboy of Kauaʻi High School was a district finalist, receiving a $5,000 scholarship. Longboy is the daughter of Maria Victoria and Eufemoio Longboy, Jr.  As a junior, Longboy did environmental research at the ‘Alekoko Fishpond, helping to create a database of phytoplankton.  She was student body president in the 12th grade and also participated in the school’s Varsity Cross Country and Tennis teams.  Longboy was also the President of Kauaʻi High School’s HOSA club, creating medicine-focused activities and educating fellow students about disease prevention and volunteered as a student intern at Wilcox Medical Center.  After attending Stanford University next Fall, Longboy hopes for a career in medicine.

Ian Ramson Garces of Kapaʻa High School received a $3,000 scholarship from the district public schools category. Garces is the son of Efreline and Nathaniel Garces, and will attend Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Kyoto, Japan, next Fall.  Garces served as the Vice-President of Marketing in Kapaʻa High School’s DECA club, promoting entrepreneurship, marketing, finance and business management.  He has also been very involved in the school’s student government since his sophomore year.  Garces participated on the cross country and track team, and has also volunteered with the Puakea Golf Course catering department and Kapaʻa High School’s Key Club.


Sofia Saunders also received a $3,000 scholarship from the same category. Saunders is the daughter of Pamela and Timothy Saunders.  She will graduate from Waimea High School and attend the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.  Saunders has won three gold medals and one bronze medal through the Pele Awards for an apparel and logo design and poster series.  A member of her school’s cross country team and the president of the Spanish Honor Society, Saunders also devotes her time to numerous community service events through the school’s Leo and Interact clubs.  She participated in a beach clean-up on the west side of Kauaʻi for Hoʻomalu Ke Kai, an organization dedicated to the health of native marine life.  This experience influenced Saunders to want to become more involved and a regular at these community events.

Mahina Dameron of Island School, received a $3,000 scholarship from the private school category. Dameron is the daughter of Cynthia and Jason Dameron.  She has been involved in numerous clubs and events on campus, including student government President in her senior year, National Honor Society, Shanti Alliance and Island School’s canoe paddling and swimming teams.  She works with younger children to help coach and time swimming meets and also created a tutoring program for middle and elementary school students.  Thinking that she might like to pursue a career in marine biology, Dameron also assisted in the restoration of one of the oldest fishponds in Hawaiʻi, adjacent to the Huleiʻia River.  Dameron will attend the University of Southern California next Fall.


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