The First Class to Graduate


July 3, 2023

Ho’omau Foundation is absolutely thrilled to announce not one, not two, but THREE outstanding undergraduates from the 2023 school year! We’d like to show our immense appreciation and congratulate Tehani Buchannan, Kauahoa Hermosura, and Lilia Davis! All three Recipients are from Hawai’i and are great role models for their communities. 

Tehani joined Ho’omau Foundation as a freshman and as part of our inaugural Kamery Lee Jr. scholarships for the 2020-2021 school year. With her determination and laser-focused personality, she completed college in three years.  Tehani is a proud graduate of the Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with a degree in Business Administration in Management.  She will begin her full-time dream job at a major hotel in Maui where she can continue teaching the meaning of Aloha and the Hawaiian culture to visitors, so they can enhance their trip by learning about the Hawaiian culture. 

“My academic journey wasnʻt always so easy, it took a lot of self-motivation as well as motivation from my family”, Tehani described her experience.

Tehani's graduation with Board Members Taelson Larrow and Jeff Maruyama

Kauahoa is from the island of Kauai and double majored in Marketing and Human Resources with a minor in Political Science from Menlo College, California. Kaua was the President of the Polynesian Club on campus where he continued the love of sharing his culture with the university. Kaua wants to work for a midsize to a large company in marketing before going to graduate school.  This summer, Kaua went back home to help his aunty with their nonprofit, Palai Foundation where they educate elementary school students during the summer in Native Hawaiian culture and activities. 

Kaua's graduation with Board Members Taelson Larrow and JoNelle Sood

Lilia is from the island of Maui and earned her degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Sustainability from the University of Denver, Colorado. She also graduated in three years and will attend the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, in the Natural Resource Department, to earn her master's degree in environmental management. Not only was Lilia focused academically, but she was active in the Native Student Alliance and the Sustainability Club on campus. She participated in climate change research in the southwest and in Mexico with the school's geography department. Lilia is well on her way to improving conservation in Hawaiʻi by uplifting and including the Hawaiian community and culture. 

Lilia's graduation

All three graduates perpetuate their culture and continue to be outstanding pillars for the lāhui (community). The Ho’omau Foundation team is extremely excited for Tehani, Kaua, and Lilia for their hard work in college as well as their dedication to their culture,  families, and themselves. 

“I’m so honored to have met these three students and all of our Recipients.  Each Recipient has so much potential, drive, and dedication, and it’s amazing to be a small part of their journey. Each Recipient embodies the qualities that represent our mission and my dad’s legacy,” JoNelle Sood, Founder & President of Ho’omau Foundation. 

Hear what our Recipients have to say about Ho'omau Foundation

“The Hoʻomau Foundation has been by my side for my entire undergraduate career. I thank every board member, ambassador, and donor for making this program possible. Not only did the financial scholarship help, but this foundation provided me with a network system to boost my career and to also boost my self-confidence. I was able to connect with other recipients who are also going through their undergrad journey, having those connections are really valuable. I say this because it creates a support system, which is well needed during these times of change and growth.”  Tehani Buchannan

“ The Hoʻomau Foundation has been a key support system in my academic journey with networking opportunities, community building, and personal and financial support. My long-term goal is to improve conservation in Hawaiʻi by uplifting and including the Hawaiian community and culture. I believe that educating future generations about sustainability is essential, and the Hoʻomau Foundation represents how meaningful it is to support Pacific Islander students to achieve their goals. The encouragement and support from the Hoʻomau Foundation will have an everlasting effect on me, and I hope to give back to them and their students in the future”. Lilia Davis

“The Ho’omau Foundation, to me, means it’s an opportunity for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students to be able to pursue higher education and be active in our communities. It shows how hard we work and all the amazing things we can do”. Kauahoa Hermosura

Ho’omau Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on the success and development of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Our mission is to provide scholarships, mentorship, and networking opportunities to NHPI students who are active in the NHPI community. By combining the support for academic success and perpetuation of our culture, the foundation will help recipients succeed in their endeavors while maintaining and growing their cultural ties and identity.

“I think the most valuable thing that I gained through this program was discovering my identity as a Native Hawaiian, this program inspired and motivated me to explore my self-identity as a pacific islander. It showed me the importance of having those cultural ties and that I am not the only one on this journey,” Tehani Buchannan