'Aloha spirit' leads Maeha to impact through studies, volunteering

· 5 min read

‘Aloha spirit’ leads Maeha to impact through studies, volunteering

Gwen Maeha
Nebraska's Gwen Maeha is a child, youth and family studies major and Husker Bowling athlete from Wahiawa, Hawaii

Editor’s Note — This Q&A is part of a weekly conversation series celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature Huskers who are making impacts on campus and look to maintain that momentum in future careers. Learn more about APIDA Heritage Month coverage in Nebraska Today.

This week, meet Gwen Maeha, a child, youth and family studies major and Husker Bowling athlete from Wahiawa, Hawaii. Maeha is a Husker who embodies an “aloha” spirit, making an impact in her studies and through volunteer work.

What originally drew you to your major — and what do you hope to do with it in the future?

A big reason as to why I decided to pursue a degree in child, youth and family studies was the passion I have for working with children. A lot of this stems from ties with my nieces and nephew and seeing their growth. My future endeavors are to get into social work or provide child care assistance.

You’re a member of the Husker Bowling team and helped the team take a national title. What is the best part about being a Husker bowler?

There isn’t one specific thing that I can point out as the “best;” however, one of the things that I appreciate about being a member of the team is the unlimited resources and opportunities that we are given as students, athletes, and future contributing members of society. For example, our Life Skills advisers help us gain an advantageous edge by assisting in updating resumes, finding ways to giving back to the community and planning out courses of action to ensure future success.

During your free time, you volunteer a lot in the community and have received the Tom Osborne Citizenship Award multiple times. Why is giving back — and leadership — so important for you?

I was raised by my parents to appreciate those who appreciate and support you. So, when the opportunities arose to give back to the communities here in Nebraska, there was no hesitation. Leadership, on the other hand, is important because I was brought up to follow my heart even if it meant I had to make my own path. Therefore, taking responsibility for my own actions and thoughts pushed me to want to lead by example.

Being a student-athlete at Nebraska provides a big platform. Can you talk about being a positive role model?

We get a lot of attention just by being an athlete. However, when it comes to being a bowler, it’s not a sport that attracts a lot of attention. So, using bowling as a means to pay for college was a part of being a role model and letting younger generations know that you don’t have to play a big 3 sport to help pay for your degree. All in hopes of encouraging young bowlers to keep working on their craft and it could pay dividends in the future.

How does your culture play a role in your life in general or as a Husker/student-athlete — or how do you celebrate your culture through your daily life and work on campus and in the community?

Being a Hawaii native, something we preach a lot back home is the idea of “aloha.” Now, while aloha means a lot of things, one interpretation of it is to be kind and caring. I’ve made some of my best friends while being an athlete here at Nebraska and I credit it all to the ways that I was brought up in Hawaii — to show aloha to all, regardless of their age, gender, religion etc.

Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

I won’t be one to ramble on about making a huge change in the world. However, if there was one thing I’d like to accomplish, it would be to become a person that can be trusted as a helping hand and a resource to those who need it the most on my little rock in the middle of the Pacific.

What or who inspires you?

It sounds a little cliche, but my dad has been my driving motivation and the person that had inspired me to pursue my dreams. He had a rough childhood and with sheer will, managed to make a better life not just for himself, but for his wife and kids. His drive to make sure that my brother and I didn’t have to face the adversity that he did as an adolescent has never gone unnoticed and I appreciate and love him deeply.

What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?

Another cliche response, but I’d say to take every opportunity you get and don’t be afraid to build your network. I’ve personally had interactions with people that have been able to assist me on my journey in ways I could not even imagine or repay. So don’t be afraid to take risks and build a bond that lasts a lifetime.

Anything else you’d like to talk about?

It’s been an honor and a pleasure to attend such a prestigious school and garner the experiences that this place has had to offer. The unrelenting dedication of the staff here and the atmosphere created by the student body is unmatched anywhere else in the country. It has been nothing short of a pleasure to be able to have called the University of Nebraska home for the last five years. There really is no place like Nebraska.

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