Hawaiʻi BOE student representative wins prestigious scholarship from University of Virginia

09-Apr-2024

Kalāheo High School senior and Hawai‘i State Board of Education student representative Ahryanna McGuirk will attend the University of Virginia as a Jefferson Scholar, the first student from Hawai‘i to win the prestigious award from the institution.

​HONOLULU — Kalāheo High School senior and Hawai‘i State Board of Education student representative Ahryanna McGuirk will attend the University of Virginia as a Jefferson Scholar, the first student from Hawai‘i to win the prestigious award from the institution.

The Jefferson Scholars Foundation recognizes high school seniors who have demonstrated excellence in leadership, academics and engaged citizenship. The scholarship covers tuition for four years of study and costs for enrichment activities such as personal development opportunities and travel study.

McGuirk is one of a few dozen high school seniors who won the award from a pool of over 2,500 students who were nominated by their schools. Candidates had to go through a rigorous, highly competitive, multi-stage selection process.

“I am grateful for the people who believed in me and supported me, and I aspire to make all of them proud,” McGuirk said. “I hope that earning this scholarship will increase awareness of this and other opportunities in higher education for students to pursue, and I look forward to using my education to take care of the people and the place that has taken care of me all these years.”

As the BOE student representative for the 2023-24 term, she represented students in public and charter schools statewide. The student representative has the same responsibilities as other BOE members, but does not have voting rights on Board decisions. She was the first student from Kalāheo High School to serve as a BOE student representative. 

“Ahry has been a great student representative on the BOE and has provided thoughtful and informative perspectives throughout her term,” BOE Chairperson Warren Haruki said. “Most of all, she is an outstanding person – great interpersonal skills, super respectful, and an effective communicator. With her academic prowess, combined with these skills, her future is bright and we encourage her to pursue her dreams.”

McGuirk is also one of 20 Hawai‘i juniors and seniors who are part of the Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders Fellows program this year. She also serves as an executive officer on the Hawai’i State Student Council and volunteered on the Youth Leadership Council for Make-A-Wish Hawai’i and started the Wish Club at Kalāheo High School, a group aimed at helping to grant wishes to children with critical illnesses. She’s currently working toward earning her private pilot license through a scholarship at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

“I’m so proud of Ahryanna for being the first student from Hawai`i to win this scholarship. She embodies the Department’s mission for students to be globally competitive and locally committed. It has been a pleasure to watch her step up into the leadership role and advocate for the needs of public school students. I wish her all the best in her next chapter in Charlottesville,” said Superintendent Keith Hayashi.

At the University of Virginia, McGuirk plans to double major in public policy and global studies with a minor in Japanese. She hopes to navigate such issues as affordable housing and educational equity and find solutions to economic and humanitarian crises.

“I aim to be a public servant and embody the spirit of aloha in all of my endeavors,” she said. 

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