By Kathleen Plaza, Rotary Scholar
I was born and raised in a rural barrio (neighborhood) in Mindanao, Philippines. I moved to Guam when I was about 18 years old. I became a member of the Rotaract Club of the Marianas in Guam when I was completing my undergrad degree in biology, and served as secretary in 2011-12 and as youth services director in 2012-13.
I moved to Hawaii in August 2015, and with a Rotary Scholarship funded by a global grant, began taking classes in public health, focused on disease prevention and treatment. I will finish my program in May 2017.
I have always been interested in ending polio and finding ways to help our club make a difference. Rotary’s This Close campaign is inspiring and resonates with my dream of developing and promoting programs that address health care needs and decrease the occurrence of communicable and vaccine-preventable diseases in medically underserved communities like the barrio where I grew up. As a humble immigrant from a developing country, I want, in my own way, to Be a Gift to the World.
The global grant scholarship is helping me achieve that goal. I have tremendous support coming from Rotary District 2750, and I also have a supportive host club, the Rotary Club of Honolulu. I’m very proud and honored that the club asked me to serve as a judge for the Hawaii Rotary Youth Foundation Committee, which grants $5,000 scholarships to graduating seniors at Hawaii high schools who wish to go to college. My role on the area selection committee will be to judge applicants from my area.
I would encourage other Rotary alumni to continue to find ways to stay involved with Rotary, even after you finish your program or studies. We all can make a difference.
- Learn ways to stay connected with Rotary alumni
- Watch a webinar on maximizing your Rotary Scholarship experience
About the author: Kathleen Plaza is a Rotaractor and a Rotary Scholar from the Philippines to Hawaii. She is currently pursuing an advanced degree at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.