2020 HFC journalism scholar hopes to express the beauty of Hawaii’s land and people through writing

by Brenna Marie Flores
2020 HFC Journalism Scholarship Winner

Editor’s Note: Journalism scholarship applicants were asked to write an essay to address how they became interested in the journalism/mass communications/media field, how their future career would benefit the Filipino and general community and how they would contribute to Hawaii’s growth and development in the future. Brenna Marie Flores has been selected as the 2020 winner for her commitment to a communications career and community service in Hawaii, expression of Filipino values and overall achievements. Below are excerpts from her essay.

Brenna Flores
Brenna Flores

My name is Brenna Flores, a senior communications student at Chaminade University of Honolulu. I chose to major in communications because of my passion for writing. Journalism was a natural choice and I am now using my newswriting skills to write for our online student newspaper, “The Silversword.” Through writing, I hope to express the beauty of Hawaii — the land and the cultural diversity of our local people — and tell positive stories and continue to uplift the “aloha” and “bayanihan” spirit.

Hawaii’s beautiful environment makes this a special place to live and my mission is to create awareness through a combination of communications (print, broadcast and online) campaigns so everyone can become more active in keeping our home state healthy, safe and sustainable.

I was grateful to be a part of an environmental climate action group led by Environmental Studies and Communications undergraduates at Chaminade. The goal of this climate action campaign was to communicate and create awareness and raise the conversation about climate change. Throughout the campaign, we brainstormed different ways to better our carbon footprint and decrease factors that are impacting our beautiful environment. I took the lead of establishing “Tupperware Tuesdays,” where Chaminade students could bring in reusable Tupperware, utensils and cups to eliminate unnecessary plastic waste at our cafeteria and market. In return, students would receive a discounted price on certain items.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to abandon the plans as we weren’t allowed on campus because of a lockdown. Instead, we progressed toward a High School Climate Action Contest, which was the most convenient option to conduct in the new virtual learning world. Along the same lines of our original campaign, the contest was established for high school students to create videos to educate others about climate change solutions for create a cleaner, greener world. On this campaign, my specific roles were creating the contest’s rules and regulations and I also designed the complimentary “Chaminade Climate Change” T-shirt that applicants received for submitting their videos.

It was rewarding to work with Environmental Studies students and be educated on our impact on the world. It was also very exciting for me to be able to use my communications knowledge to develop a campaign for and reach out to local high school students to take part in an important social issue. I wish COVID-19 didn’t affect all the original plans for the campaign. Regardless, I am grateful to have gained leadership and teamwork experience by organizing the video contest.

Filipinos are the most hardworking people I know! This makes me proud of my heritage and instills the same hardworking mentality in myself. I want to work hard because my Filipino ancestors did.

My great-grandma came from Cebu City and brought my grandma and her 10 siblings to the Hawaii, specifically Honoka’a on the Big Island, to work on the sugar plantations. My grandma was a baby at the time so she wasn’t a plantation worker, but her mother was. They arrived in the year 1924 to be a part of the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association (HSPA). As for my grandpa, he was born in the Philippines and was from Pasay. His father (my great-grandfather) was a merchant marine and brought his five kids and wife to America to explore greater opportunities with the expectation to accept the challenge and work hard. I believe my own work ethic would benefit the Filipino community and the general population because I will strive to be an example and share my communications work in a profession where not many other Filipino writers are represented. I hope to inspire young Filipinos to consider the exciting and dynamic field of journalism and mass communications because of the many different job opportunities it has to offer (print, broadcast and online). I want to encourage all students, especially Filipinos, who have no idea what major they want to go into after high school and demonstrate to them how a communications career can make a positive impact on society.

With a degree in communications and a minor in marketing, I would like to explore a job writing for a nonprofit organization, but I am open and adaptable to whatever journalism or media jobs may come my way after I graduate in May 2021.

I am currently doing an internship at Hawaii Theater Center, a nonprofit organization in Honolulu/Chinatown, and getting more experience to prepare me for a communications career. It is incredible to see how much harder nonprofit organizations have to work to come up with the necessary funding they need to survive. It would be so fulfilling to work for a nonprofit like Make-A-Wish® Hawaii and be able to work at such a wholesome organization whose mission is to help others and make a difference in their lives.

I am honored to be the recipient of the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle scholarship. It would help me finish my education and then graduate to find a communications job that allows me to give back to those in need. Giving back to our community is so important because it reflects both the “aloha” and “bayanihan” spirit of cooperation and understanding of people from all walks of life. Our diversity is what makes Hawaii, Hawaii. It is beautiful to see everyone from all cultures unite and embrace diversity and differences, while helping the world become a better place. These are the uplifting stories I would like to write about now and in the future.

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