Shannon Mau '16. Photo courtesy of Shannon Mau.
Shannon Mau '16 has received the University of Hawaii Board of Regents Scholarship and will be attending UH at Manoa this fall for free! The school will be covering the cost of her undergraduate tuition for four years. During those four years, she will also receive a yearly stipend, and a travel grant to study abroad. She has already started making travel plans.
"I want to study abroad in Australia or in Denmark. Australia has so much natural beauty, and it's a huge place to explore. It has always been on my bucket list of places to visit. Denmark was recently voted the happiest country in the world, mostly due to its well-run government. I'd like to experience both the culture and politics there," said Mau.
The Regents Scholarship is awarded each year to only 16 UH Manoa freshmen who maintained at least a 3.5 GPA, received a combined SAT score of at least 1950 on all three sections of the test, and displayed remarkable extracurricular achievements.
In high school, Mau excelled in her academics. She was a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), played junior varsity basketball, and was the sports editor and copy editor for the Eagle Eye newspaper. Mau says she loved writing for the school newspaper, which won Best-in-State two years in a row while she was on staff. Her favorite article that she wrote focused on Hawaii's sports culture, specifically football. Through NHS, Mau got to participate in several community service projects. She says the most memorable project was volunteering for Special Olympics.
"It was a really eye-opening experience, and it was very inspiring to see how excited the athletes were. It showed me how easily I take things for granted, and it reminded me to appreciate what I have."
Mau attends Kaimuki Christian Church with her mother and brother, Marcus, who will be a sophomore. At church, she volunteers as a junior leader for Vacation Bible School and as an usher.
Mau received an additional scholarship from the Shidler School of Business and was accepted into both the Honor's Program and the Shidler Freshman Direct Admit Program. Right now, Mau's plan is to study finance, and she hopes to eventually earn a graduate degree. Currently, her professional goal is to become a financial advisor. However, she says her dream job is to be a sports analyst, or to work in sports management, and also be a sports writer on the side.
"I want to do finance because I like working with projections. However, writing, specifically sport's journalism, is my passion. Business and journalism seem to complement each other, so I'm planning to do a double major. Hopefully, I'll be able to pursue a graduate degree on the mainland."
Mau is a Daughter of HBA, which means she has been enrolled at HBA since kindergarten. She says she was not a good student in kindergarten or first grade, but all of that changed in second grade with help from her teacher, Mrs. Dayna Nakamura.
"I got distracted very easily in kindergarten, but Mrs. Lichtenberg was fun and patient with me. Things turned around in second grade, and the teacher, Mrs. Nakamura, made all the difference. She was the first teacher who helped me to enjoy learning. She was really positive and supportive. She fostered that spirit in me, and I've made the honor roll ever since then."
Her love for learning blossomed, and a few years later she was invited to attend the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth summer program at Stanford University to study English and writing, thanks to her high test scores. While her time at Stanford was academically rewarding, she was also challenged to grow in her faith. During that time, Mau's parents were going through a divorce. It was also the first time she had been so far away from home, all on her own. She remembers crying on the phone, and begging her mom to let her come home. But her mother encouraged her to persevere, so she stayed.
"When I was at Stanford, I know that God was watching over me, because on the night that one of my best friends left, the program director introduced me to one of the resident assistants. Her name was Krystal, and she wasn't able to use her legs, so she was confined to a wheelchair. It turned out she was a Christian, and I was so excited to find a Christian woman there. We talked and prayed together, and I called my mom up that night to share the good news."
Mau's experience at Stanford taught her to rely on God. Her decision to attend UH was another step of faith.
"I never expected to stay here for college. From seventh grade, the plan was always to work hard, so I could go away. Just when I thought I was mainland bound, I got an email from UH saying that I'd received the Regents Scholarship. I was so torn that I would sob over what to do. However, I realized that it was God's way of reminding me that His plans are more important than mine."
Mau says she deeply appreciates the emotional and spiritual support she received from her teachers at HBA.
"Mr. Sprankle knew about my family situation, so he really watched out for me in middle school. He was a funny teacher too. Even though he taught Bible, which isn't the most exciting subject, he made it fun. One day, I fell asleep in class. I had my hands crossed in front of my face to try and hide. He called me, and I didn't know what to say. I apologized and said I was praying. We just laughed and we moved on. Every time he sees me now, he always asks if I've been praying."
Mau also credits her other teachers, including Mr. Hu and Mrs. Nakano, for her personal development.
"Mr. Hu was the first teacher willing to be completely honest and open about any topic with me. A lot of students, including myself, love him because of his life experience and great sense of humor. Mrs. Nakano really taught me to lead with both grace and truth. She helped me to understand that often times the correct decision isn't the easy one, and that a good leader is able to make the difficult choices."
Mau is very close with her family.
"Even though we argue, I still have a good relationship with both of them. We've been through a lot together. My mom is the most honest and caring person I know. Marcus can be a pest at times, but he can also be a good brother, and he's funny."
Mau reminds all high school students that growing in character is more important than getting good grades.
"Even though a GPA is important, the person behind the GPA is more important. Trying new things, meeting teachers, developing relationships, are all important. The fear of failure is not a valid excuse to avoid doing something. Some of the best successes you're going to have are going to come out of failures."