A bright future in science for first recipient of Dorothy Ono Scholarship


Named for a popular but tough math teacher at Kaimuki High, the Stephen Ching Family Foundation bestows the inaugural scholarship on Nina Bean, who is attending UH-Manoa in the fall to study marine biology.


Nothing makes an impression in life quite like a dedicated teacher.

Stephen Ching's memories of his Kaimuki High School math teacher, Dorothy Ono, inspired him to launch a scholarship named for her. "She was very precise and clear in how she taught the material. She definitely brought out the best in us," said Ching, whose Kaimuki High Class of 1968 included students who went on to become doctors, lawyers and engineers. "She wasn't the rah-rah, school-spirit type, but she was very dedicated and our class just loved her." 

The Ching Family Foundation's scholarship​ provides annual funding for up to four years of undergraduate study to a Kaimuki High School graduate who excels in math or science. When asked about naming it for her, the elderly Ono happily gave her blessing. She died six months later.

The first recipient of the Dorothy Ono Scholarship is Nina Bean, who graduated from Kaimuki last month and plans to study marine biology at UH. Let's meet her:

Nina BeanNina Bean

What do you plan to study at UH?

I plan on majoring in marine biology with a focus on environmental conservation.

What other scholarships did you receive?

I have been blessed with many other scholarships including the UH-Manoa Chancellor Scholarship, HMSA Kaimana Awards, Hawaii Self Storage, Taiwanese Association of America Hawaii Chapter, the Kaimuki Business and Professional Association, Tom Coastain Scholarship, and the Oceanic scholarship.

Did you apply to other schools?

I did not apply to any other schools because I knew, even as a freshman in high school, that I wanted to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Why did you choose UH?

UH-Manoa had appealed to me for several reasons — location, diversity, and opportunity just to name a few. Even though I have only lived in Hawaii for 4 years, I feel at home in this extremely beautiful chain of Islands. Because I plan on majoring in marine biology, and because I also love swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling, I thought, what better place to attend school than UH-Manoa? Its campus is in such a prime location, the answer was quite obvious for me.

Another thing I noticed since moving to Hawaii was the diverse community — a melting pot, so to speak. I have been to 11 different countries, and have lived in three of them. My appreciation for different cultures, traditions, and people never ceases. With UH-Manoa being a flagship school, people from all over the nation, as well as many Hawaiian locals attend it.

Finally, my major: Marine biology. With UH-Manoa having such a strong marine biology program, I can imagine how many people will be attending UH-Manoa for that exact reason. I hope that by attending UH-Manoa, I will have the opportunity to meet other individuals with the same passion and dedication for education and marine biology as I have.

Did you know much about Dorothy Ono? What have you learned about Dorothy Ono after receiving the scholarship?

I unfortunately did not know much about Dorothy Ono until after I received the scholarship. I learned that she was a teacher of mathematics at Kaimuki High School and a prominent member of the math department. I also learned that she passed away quite recently and even knew I was the recipient of this scholarship. That makes me feel so blessed and grateful.

What interests you about science and math?

As I matured throughout high school, I found myself questioning things around me and seeking more knowledge. I explored different subject areas in my various classes and found a natural liking for certain subjects. Sure I appreciated all my classes because knowledge to me was always stimulating, but it was undeniable that I loved science. Science could finally answer all the burning questions that had always festered deep inside me since I was young. I found this to be fascinating and helped me better understand the world I live in. In these classes, my teachers’ passion for science was obvious. Their exciting personalities resonated through them and I found myself waking up in the mornings excited for their classes. They encouraged and fostered my curiosity and, by doing so, contributed to my own acquired love and passion for science.

Although science came naturally for me, math had been an unexpected challenge. Because I have always thought in a systematic, mathematical type of way, math had once been easy. However, in the higher-level math classes I found myself surrounded by “math whizzes” and, frankly, I was intimidated. It was not until I began taking college math classes later on in high school that I really began to feel confident in my math skills. Was it because the class was easy? Hardly so, quite the opposite in fact. The class was extremely rigorous, more so than any I had ever experienced. The exams were extremely challenging and I remember getting 10 points marked off for one simple mistake. That one mistake, a simple computation error, cost me my otherwise deserved A. Instead of backing down and being intimidated from the class like I had once been, I took the challenge. I viewed this class as a test of my abilities, a potential turning point in my academic career.

The college math class I had signed up for was an accelerated intensive 8-week course with classes every single day. From taking on the challenge of this class by studying every single day, meeting up with study groups on the weekend, and endless reviewing before tests, I prospered and excelled and grew an immense liking for math. Not only did I discover my liking for math, but also realized I had slowly become a different person. When I see challenge, I greet it with open arms for I know I can grow from it. I realize living and learning everyday with ambition and a driven mind will most definitely result in success. Math was challenging, but I learned to love it. So much in fact, that I have taken four accelerated college math classes in one year, ending at Calculus II and earning top marks in all.

Did an educator have any influence on your academic or career path?

I do not believe that one single educator has had a major impact on my academic path because I believe the multitude of great educators I have been blessed with have created a positive learning environment to foster academic growth within all their students. They too have impressed on me how vital it is to be a good student and to be a well rounded person. I can, however, attribute my plans to incorporate conservation in my career path to my experience with Kupu Hawaii. Through interning with this non-profit organization, I truly realized how important and necessary it is to keep our environment healthy and how much of a difference one person can make.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?

In 5 or 10 years I find myself pursuing a career that works towards the conservation of marine species and the ecosystem through science and research. I would like to travel to many places to bring awareness to conservation in the ocean and lead the world to a more sustainable future so that humans can prosper in the most balanced way. If I can make a difference, and raise my voice for those without a voice, then I will be in the process of fulfilling my reason of living here on earth and reaching my full potential.

What was your experience like at Kaimuki High? Did you attend any other public schools in Hawaii?

The first 2 years of high school I attended Hilo High School, but through attending Kaimuki High School for the last 2 years of my high school career, I have been able to appreciate the school and its little treasures. Kaimuki High School is such a small school, I have been able to get closer to the counselors, teachers, and coaches, and as a class, I sense a strong ohana feeling.

I also took part in Kaimukiʻs cross country, wrestling, and track and field team. I have enjoyed playing and competing for Kaimuki for all sports.

Due to the fact that Kaimuki is unable to provide some higher-level classes such as Calculus I or AP Biology, Kaimuki does support a dual enrollment program called Running Start. Though this program, students are able to take classes at the local community college while still taking some classes at the high school. Because I was part of this program, I did not spend too much time in Kaimuki High School my senior year, but as a result, was able to earn 26 college credits by the time I graduated.

Greatest moment of high school (related to academics)?

The greatest moment I would have to say was officially knowing I was a co-valedictorian with my fellow classmate. This was so nice because it showcased all my hard work throughout high school.

Contact Information

Communications and Community Affairs Office

Phone: 808-586-3232

Email: doe_info@hawaiidoe.org


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