Pearl City High School 2010 graduate, Kelly Maeshiro is half way through his freshman year at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. Maeshiro was one of four Pearl City High School seniors who received $1000 scholarships from the Pearl City Community Association (PCCA) in 2010 to assist in the students college tuition financial needs.
Maeshiro was accepted in 2010 to attend a few prestigious Ivy League schools which included Cornell University, Princeton University and Harvard University. He decided on Harvard University and is truly grateful for the opportunity.
MyPearlCity.com received the following letter written by Kelly Maeshiro that was sent to the Pearl City Community Association Board of Directors expressing his appreciation for the PCCA scholarship tuition assistance and also shared his life changing experiences during his first year at Harvard University.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Maeshiro
Pearl City High School Class of 2010 alumni and current Harvard University freshman, Kelly Maeshiro.
To the Pearl City Community Association and its Board of Directors:
I write to you with great thanks in my heart. You have done me and my family a great favor, and you will never know how thankful we are, especially me. Harvard has been amazing, at once challenging, taxing, engaging, and rewarding. It’s been only little more than a term—half a year—here, but the opportunities that I’ve been presented have been incredible, really in-credible, hard to believe.
I am semi-notorious for making my school look bad, so I will try to be gentle here. In high school, I felt like I was sleeping through my existence. I wasn’t challenged (at least not in class) in general, and when I was challenged, it wasn’t in any relevant or meaningful way. This is not to criticize Pearl City High School as to criticize the philosophy of K-12 education as a whole and to contrast it with a great liberal arts education, an education I was born for.
I think what really makes this place special, as with any other place, are the people. The students and professors here are all incredibly talented, brilliant, ambitious folks, but what I admire most about them are their other less-notorious qualities: their passion, their humility to learn, their diversity, their sincerity. My professors are genuinely passionate about their work and excessively qualified to be doing it. My economics professor is former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under the Bush administration (he blames the president for any mishaps) Greg Mankiw, who also wrote one of the most widely used introductory economics textbooks in academia and uses it in his own class (for all their fortes, modesty is not the foremost of a Harvard professor’s). My 20th century political history seminar professor is a former member of the British Parliament, who lost his seat in Thatcher’s conservative tidal wave and one of the world’s eminent Maoist scholars. My government professor is the editor-in-chief of Education Next, a journal of economic research and opinion. And the languages are taught brilliantly.
Professors aren’t the only geniuses around here though. Harvard has this odd ability to all sorts of fascinating people. In the first term alone, I got to see Justice Stephen Bryer give a book talk, attend a discussion on educational policy with Michelle Rhee and Jeb Bush, participate in numerous dialogues on No Child Left Behind with former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, listen to a lecture on Beethoven sonatas by the great pianist and Beethoven scholar Alfred Brendel, attend a lecture on the evolution of the press by Rachel Maddow, and discuss the rise of the new right wing with Hardball’s Chris Matthews. Heck, one day I was walking to CVS to buy some things and I passed Karen Armstrong, the former nun, whom I had recently seen on TED.com talk about religion and compassion. One day I was sitting on a bench and Japanese post-modern architect Toyo Ito strolls by. It just seems so unreal.
Yet I find as much if not more reward outside of the classroom and lecture hall. My friends are all inspiring in one way or another: one aspires to be a hospital doctor, another a psychology scholar, and another a trader in future contracts. Despite their seemingly specialized interests, they are broad thinkers and have provided me with intellectual sparring partners I’ve been waiting my whole life for. We’ve had more than our fair share of dusk to dawn conversations (debates, really) on everything from cultural and moral relativism to the relevance and purpose of a high school education. We are tied together by our common insatiable thirst for knowledge, but not knowledge for its own sake, rather knowledge as a means to understanding ourselves, others, the world, and our relationship and responsibilities therein inherent. I think this is what gives our education dimension: a recognizable and relevant purpose.
Everything here is committed to something, even the groups I’m in. The Education Society is dedicated to understanding why American education is the way it is and what can be done to it. The Shakya Center for Buddhist studies is committed to understanding Buddhist teachings in the context of a changing society. Harvard College Faith and Action (HCFA) is committed to providing Christians the opportunity to grapple with their faith intellectually and spiritually, to gain more than the sometimes bloodless and superficial knowledge that one gains from the realities abounding. I thought Harvard, this bastion of secular humanistic liberalism, would kill any last flicker of Christian faith within me. Instead, forcing me to wrestle persistently with it, to challenge it and be challenged by it and by others, has reinvigorated my faith, augmented it, and given it depth. In my religion class, we read the seminal works of existentialism and I find myself debating Kierkegaard, Nietzsche (Nietzsche especially), and Dostoyevsky. My spiritual family in HCFA inspires me constantly. I don’t intend to sound histrionic or hyperbolic or cliché, but I am certainly changed by these experiences, if not a new person altogether, and I think in a positive way. I have been changed by these people. I have been changed by the fact that I step out of bed everyday actually looking forward to going to class (some have suggested that I get this checked—it’s just not right). Harvard, this brave new world with endless opportunities, has changed me and I am profoundly grateful for it all, for every moment I am here.
My goal here was not to brag. Rather, my hope is that sharing this with you will bring you closer to one day understanding even one-hundredth of the impact of your generosity. Its reverberations are boundless for the fact that it changes people, and this effect is infectious: changed people change people. I am genuinely touched by your generosity, and it behooves me to pay it forward in every way I can. I hope this will inspire you to continue with the great things you are doing for Pearl City, especially for its young, in whom all the promise of the future is inextricably wound.
Very truly yours in profound gratitude,
PCCA Scholarship Program recipients are chosen from a four member PCCA selection committee. Applicants are required to complete a bio, essay on why they are in need of financial assistance, field of studies, colleges or universities applied to, grades transcript, accomplishments, activities and letters of recommendations.
The Pearl City Community Association (PCCA) Board of Directors and membership led by President Jits Fujimura, plan, support and volunteer for community fundraising projects and events throughout the year to raise funds for the Annual PCCA Scholarship Program.
Also, generous donations from the Annual PCCA Membership Drive also contributes in raising additional scholarship funds as well as supporting numerous community projects that directly benefit the Pearl City community.