Without question, academic scholarships make many college dreams come true. Apart from helping make higher education possible for those who can’t afford to pay out of pocket, scholarships can also ease the stress of entering the real world bogged down in student debt.

Just ask the hundreds of students from Maui, Lanai and Molokai who are pursuing degrees at colleges and universities across the country with the help of the scholarships they’ve received from the Realtors Association of Maui Community Foundation (RAMCF) Presidential Scholarship Fund.

Since its inception in 1989, the RAMCF Presidential Scholarship Fund has awarded $812,000 in academic scholarships to college-bound high school seniors and past scholarship recipients (who can apply every year they are in school, up to four years). Funds for the annual scholarships are raised through Mea Kako‘o, a group of sponsors who collectively donate money to the program, and events like the Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk, RAM’s Got Talent and the RAMCF Presidential Scholarship Golf Event.

“One of the most rewarding activities that the Realtors Association of Maui annually engages in is the awarding of scholarships to Maui’s deserving students who are seeking higher education,” said 2019-20 RAM President Mike Trotto. “This year is no exception, as RAM has awarded 62 scholarships. Why RAM does this was brought home in a letter of appreciation from one of this year’s recipients. This student wrote that her aspirations are to learn as much as possible in her field so as to return home and use that knowledge to help make Maui a better place. That says it all.”

Among the 62 recipients is Josh Ooka, a second-time awardee of the RAMCF Presidential Scholarship. The 2019 Baldwin High School graduate is currently a pre-med student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he is majoring in physiological sciences. “I was so thankful for the generosity of the Realtors Association of Maui to continue to offer scholarships during this difficult time for everyone,” he said. “I have nothing but gratitude for the kindness they exude as they continue to support Maui residents and their pursuit of higher education.”

Like Ooka, Joanna Acosta is a two-time recipient of the scholarship. This fall, the 2019 Lahainaluna High School graduate will start her sophomore year at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with her sights set on a degree in finance or accounting from the university’s Lee Business School. “I am filled with gratitude to have been one of this year’s scholarship recipients,” Acosta said. “This generous award will definitely help me pay some of my college fees and be one step closer in fulfilling my dreams. It is truly an honor to have received this award again this year. I cannot thank the Realtors Association of Maui Community Foundation enough for giving me this scholarship, and for believing in me. The Realtors Association of Maui Community Foundation has helped countless students like me from Maui to continue to pursue our passions.”

Applications for next year’s RAMCF Presidential Scholarship will be available in early 2021. To be eligible, students must be a high school senior or a former recipient of the scholarship (from the previous three years) and must be in the process of applying or reapplying to an accredited college or university or trade school. Applicants must also be full-time Maui County residents who are currently attending—or have previously attended—a public or private high school in Maui County; however, students attending private high schools off island will be considered residents of Maui County if they are living off island for the specific purpose of attending that private high school. Current GED participants are also encouraged to apply.

For more information about the RAMCF Presidential Scholarship Fund, visit www.ramaui.com/scholarship. To learn more about the RAMCF, visit www.ramaui.com/foundation/ram-community-foundation.

The Maui News – August 10, 2020