Aloha Stanford!Academics and aloha earn a Kapaa graduate an Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation Ambassador scholarship
Maluhia Stark-Kinimaka will represent the spirit of aloha at prestigious Stanford University as an incoming freshman this fall. The multi-talented wahine, who is the recipient of the 2014 Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation’s Ambassador of Aloha Scholarship, knew she wanted to attend school in California but added Stanford to her application list on a whim.
“I really didn’t believe I was going to get in, but once I did I was so stunned,” says the Kapaa High School alumna, who graduated top of her class with a 4.3 GPA.
The Anahola resident is looking forward to making new friends, living on her own and tackling the academic programs offered at the university.
“I’m a little nervous because I know it’s going to be a ton of work,” she admits.
Luckily, tuition won’t be a major concern for Stark-Kinimaka, who won the $10,000 scholarship for her achievements and ability to emanate aloha. “Being raised in Hawaiian Homes, you learn how to grow up with a community mindset, and the spirit of aloha just becomes a part of you.”
She’s grateful to have grown up on Kauai where “you get to know everybody,” and people are so friendly. Transitioning to the Mainland may not be easy, but she’s excited about the experience. Her studies should keep her busy — she plans to earn a degree in aerospace engineering, which will take advantage of her love for math and physics.
She’s also a gifted surfer. (No surprise. Her father is the legendary big wave surfer, Titus Kinimaka.) Stark-Kinimaka attributes her academic success, in part, to surfing. “It keeps you physically fit and active so you burn off a lot of energy and don’t need to get into mischievous-type things.”
Stark-Kinimaka recently returned from two national surfing competitions when she met with Kauai Midweek and was preparing for the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif. She also is a select member of the Hawaii Junior Olympic Surf Team.
She has been on a board since she was in diapers and was standing up by herself by the time she was 3 or 4. She jokes that her father (who owns Hawaiian School of Surfing with his wife, Robin) has been “throwing” her and sister Mainei (also a pro surfer), into the water since they were little. She even has a fond memory of her father’s tough love — tossing her
in the ocean from a Jet Ski and encouraging her to swim back. He always wanted her to appreciate the gifts that the sea has to offer. Turns out, surfing became much more than just a pastime. “It’s a freeing experience.”
The lifestyle is rewarding as she gets to travel the world and meet new people at competitions, but the training can be quite challenging. Threatening wave conditions or an occasional baby shark are some of the obstacles she faces. Still, nothing stops her from doing her best. Her motivation to achieve great things is evident in her participation on the All-Star National Junior Lifeguard team as well as serving as a Roxy product ambassador since she was 11 years old.
“More than anything, Maluhia truly embraces Duke’s spirit and recognizes her duty and responsibility to share aloha wherever she goes,” says Bill Pratt, president of the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation.
Preparing for her first semester at school has been “crazy” — from interviews with the press to traveling for surf contests. But Stark-Kinimaka has managed to stay grounded. “It’s a lot to balance, but I’m thankful for it,” she says.
She hopes to inspire her peers to pursue their dreams as well. “You’re only young once, so don’t hold back on opportunities that you have.”