Being chosen to attend Nalukai Academy is one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life. Nalukai is a fully scholarshipped ten day entrepreneurship camp for High School students in Waimea, Hawaiʻi at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Campus. All meals, boarding, and computer equipment were provided at no cost to attendees. Every cohort also received a MacBook Pro to use during the camp and to keep for personal use after the camp ended. At Nalukai we learned essential business and collaboration skills along with guidance and lessons from Industry Leaders. This year out of 164 applicants from Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokai, Lānaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island and across 47 schools, 20 students were chosen to attend Nalukai Academy. The knowledge I received and connections created are priceless to me and have changed my mindset.

The Nalukai experience was incredibly intense and fast-paced. There were 10 days of pre-work that started before heading off to camp. Originally it was supposed to be only a few hours a day but after being grouped into competitive teams of four, it quickly turned into a 14 hour work day for at least a week before camp started. All the cohorts were ambitious and driven to be the best at creating, developing, and presenting the entrepreneurial projects that were assigned. We were given challenging puzzles to solve and projects to complete. One project was to create a complete mock up for a functional food truck. After that, we moved on to the final project which was for us to work individually to make product concepts of our own. All 20 cohorts competed against each other. On the second day at Nalukai we pitched our individual projects in groups of four. Each group chose a concept for development and became a team working to bring the product to life. We had 10 days to make what is called an MVP–minimum viable product. It was a 24/7 work experience, and at the end of the 10 days we pitched our finished project to the venture capitalists and experienced industry mentors. We received constructive feedback that helped us decide if we wanted to pursue working on our product. It’s been over a month since I came back from Nalukai, but my teammates and I are still working on our app almost daily. Each day brings us a step closer to officially launching our product, The Ray Wellness App. You can check it out and  sign up for the beta at https://raywellness.app/

The experience of attending Nalukai Academy transformed my life. The hands-on mentoring and instruction from successful entrepreneurs and leaders in the tech field gave me skills and experience that I would never be able to acquire while in high school. However, none of this would have happened if it weren’t for my being a student at Purple Maiʻa. Co-founder Donovan Kealoha suggested that I apply for Nalukai and encouraged me to put my best into the application, especially since it was more challenging than a college application. The instruction and coaching from Kumu Brian Mayeshiro was instrumental in the development of my skills that made it possible for me to be at a level where I was able to competently compete with other highly skilled Nalukai cohort members. Most of all, I am truly fortunate that I spent a year with Kumu Marion Ano who encouraged and supported me in my quest to become skilled in technology. Being her student at Purple Maiʻa has inspired me to learn HTML, CSS, Javascript, Artificial Intelligence Development, Virtual Reality Development, 3D Modeling, Pixel Art, and User Interface/User Experience.

Nalukai is a wonderful opportunity to advance your knowledge of technology and entrishupship, make wonderful connections, and become part of a close community that feels like a second family. If you are a high school student, or when you become a high school student, you should definitely apply for Nalukai. You can find out more at https://www.nalukai.org/ .