Congressman Faleomavaega today congratulated Mr. Kelekolio Soane Koloi and his wife Mrs. Danette Lagimaao Samuelu-Koloi who were both recently awarded scholarships for graduate studies at the University of the West (UWest) located in Rosemead, California, just ten minutes from Los Angeles.
Kelekolio (Kele) and Danette, both graduates of Kanana Fou Theological Seminary in American Samoa, were selected by UWest for two scholarships made available for the first time this year to students from American Samoa. The 1-year scholarships, worth about $10,000 each, cover tuition, books, and housing at the University. Each year, students may re-apply for additional scholarships or for work-study programs.
Congressman Faleomavaega announced the scholarship opportunity through a February 22, 2012 press release after returning from Taiwan where he met with the leadership, including Grand Master Hsing Yun, at the Buddha Memorial Center in Kaohsiung City to thank the Fo Guang Shan organization for offering 2 scholarships for students from American Samoa to attend UWest as part of their global outreach efforts.
“It is with great pleasure that I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Kelekolio and Danette Koloi on being selected by the University of the West as our very first scholarship recipients from American Samoa. Their example of devotion to their calling and willingness to further their education is a source of inspiration for many Samoans. I am very proud of Kele and Danette and I know that Samoans everywhere join me in congratulating them on this outstanding achievement,” Faleomavaega stated.
Kelekolio was admitted to the Master of Arts in Religious Studies program for the Fall of 2012 and has been awarded a Lotus Gold Scholarship which includes a $10,000 stipend for the academic year 2012-2013. Danette was admitted to the Ph.D. program in Comparative Religious Studies and has been awarded the IBEF scholarship for the Fall semester, which includes a $4,500 stipend. While full funding for the Ph.D. program was not a part of the scholarship offer initially, UWest was able to accommodate Danette by referring her to apply to an “in house” scholarship for the Ph.D program.
Kelekolio Soane Koloi is the son of Keli Soane Koloi of Tokelau and the late Fetala’i Lefao Muagututi’a Koloi of Faga’itua, American Samoa. Kele is a 1991 graduate of Waipahu High School in Honolulu. Danette Lagimaao Samuelu-Koloi is the daughter of Nick Ma’afala Bohanak of Aua and Souvenir Samuelu Bohanak of Pago Pago, American Samoa. She is a 1991 graduate of Samoana High School.
The couple married in 2005 and entered Kanana Fou Theological Seminary as newlyweds. In the 2006 school year, Danette became the first female student to enter the seminary in its history and in the history of the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa (CCCAS). Kele and Danette both graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity (BD) in Theological Studies from Kanana Fou in June 2011, where they attended as representatives of the CCCAS of Faga’itua under the spiritual leadership of Reverend Johnny and Pinto Fano.
Upon graduating from Kanana Fou Theological Seminary, Kelekolio attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California and he will be continuing his Master’s degree at UWest. He plans to graduate in June 2013 and further his education for the Ph.D program. Danette will be graduating on August 14, 2012 with a Master’s Degree in Intercultural Studies from the Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary in Seoul, Korea, where she received a full scholarship through the Council of World Mission (CWM). She plans to graduate in June 2015 from her 3 year Ph.D. program which begins in August this year. The couple plans to return to American Samoa after their studies and give back to the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa as well as the territory as a whole.
“UWest started in just one classroom at Tsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California and expanded to its Rosemead campus in 1996. One of its primary missions to this day is to facilitate cultural understanding between the East and the West. As it is open to students of all faiths, I have every confidence that both Kele and Danette will contribute their unique experiences and perspectives as representatives of American Samoa at the University,” said Congressman Faleomavaega.
“Once again I want to thank Venerable Miaohong, Special Assistant to the President of the University of the West, for visiting my office prior to my departure for Taiwan to discuss the University’s offer to provide two scholarships to students from American Samoa. I am grateful that Kele and Danette will benefit from this scholarship and I wish them great success in their new endeavor as they begin their studies at UWest. I also look forward to seeing more students from American Samoa benefit from this exceptional opportunity in the future,” the Congressman concluded.