Maui Electric Company announced that it has established the Maui Electric Company Sustainability Scholarship Endowment fund through a grant from the Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) Charitable Foundation for students enrolled in the Sustainable Science Management (SSM) program at University of Hawai’i Maui College. Maui Electric President Sharon Suzuki presented a check for $30,000 to Chancellor Lui Hokoana during a ceremony held at the UH Maui College campus on Thursday, Jan. 14.
“It’s a big day for UH Maui and for our students,” Hokoana told instructors, students and Maui Electric staff that gathered at the UH Maui College’s `Ike Le`a science building for the announcement and check presentation. “We appreciate Maui Electric’s leadership. By working together, everyone benefits and the creation of this endowment fund is a great opportunity to demonstrate how a partnership between businesses and our programs creates a win for everyone.”
The endowment fund will be used to provide an annual scholarship of $1,000 in perpetuity. Every year, one student will be selected to receive the scholarship award based on financial need. Funds awarded to students may be applied toward tuition, books, fees and school-related supplies.
“Finding the time and money to attend college can be a challenge for many of our students,” said Tim Botkin, UH Maui College SSM program director. “Maui Electric stepped up to create an opportunity to let our students be as good as they can be… and we hope other companies will follow suit.”
As the first major sponsor of the SSM program, Maui Electric hopes to inspire other local businesses to support the program and its students in substantial ways. “The endowment reflects our commitment to support higher education and our workforce. By supporting the growth of the Sustainable Science Management program, we invest in our community and our future,” Suzuki said. “As a company that has been in business for 95 years on Maui, we know the importance of a prepared workforce. I encourage other companies to join us and contribute to the endowment fund.”
The SSM program was established in 2011 to address Maui’s environmental and energy issues, and since then, has evolved into a strong four year degree program with approximately sixty majors. As one of three bachelor’s degree programs currently offered at UH Maui College, the SSM program will celebrate its first graduating class this spring.
The SSM program uses a systems thinking approach to address a range of sustainable issues, as well as the various technologies and practices that may impact future sustainability, including energy, ocean resources and water.
“Students learn how to make sound decisions for the long-term, as opposed to the short-term,” Botkin explained. “They leave the program knowing how to tackle hard questions… and how to maintain quality of life indefinitely.”
Maui Electric has supported the SSM program since it began five years ago. The company is currently mentoring a SSM student who is completing a senior year capstone project in renewable energy integration. The capstone project includes academic and field research that will eventually yield a renewable energy proposal to be applied within the community.
“Energy is a critical topic that you can’t get away from when you talk about sustainability, and Maui Electric and SSM are engaged in a conversation about making energy more efficient,” Botkin said. “Maui Electric is a valued asset to the community and it leads by example.”
The Maui Electric Company Sustainability Scholarship Endowment fund reflects the company’s longstanding commitment to higher education, as well as its efforts to create employment opportunities in the energy field.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to develop our future leaders in this ever-changing industry,” Suzuki said. “We are very excited to be a part of it.”Follow @mauiwatch
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