by Edna R. Bautista, Ed.D., Journalism Scholarship Chair
Lizette Jelena Nolasco of Pearl City has soared to success by winning the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle’s journalism scholarship at the end of 2022. The $2,500 award will help her financially at Chaminade University of Honolulu where she is majoring in communication (mass communications concentration) with a minor in history. The honor roll student’s anticipated date of graduation is May 2024, and she is aiming for a career that allows her to document events and perspectives regarding intercultural communication, including discovering more about her own Filipino culture.
She feels honored about winning the scholarship as it would ease some of the skyrocketing tuition costs. Her mom Trina helps with some of her educational expenses, but she still has several student loans.
“I am responsible for paying my own way through college. However, [my mom] is a cosigner on many of my student loans because when I started college, I needed a cosigner since I was still a minor and had no credit history. But I am responsible for paying off my student loans,” she said.
Like many students, Nolasco works part-time to earn money for college. Her job is a salesclerk at a supply store. She works hard and manages to balance academics and extra-curricular activities successfully.
“I usually take six classes during my semester while also being involved in multiple nonprofit organizations to help my community and working part time,” she said. “Due to my schedule, it is often difficult to set time for each, but I manage them. Sometimes I can only work a few days a week, which becomes challenging when I have to account for adding in hours to pay for my tuition.”
JROTC And JMC
Nolasco has a strong work ethic and is goal-oriented and disciplined in balancing everything in her life but demonstrates selflessness in her desire to serve the community.
At Aiea High School, she joined the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), graduating in 2019 at the rank of cadet captain.
“I joined JROTC because the program is focused on personal development and community involvement. They teach leadership skills and is an organization that’s dedicated to serving the community.” Nolasco explained. “I was also honored to have held over 10 leadership positions while in the program, my favorite being the Kitty Hawk Air Society Commander position where I was able to organize and coordinate the community service projects that the JROTC unit participated in.”
For her efforts, Nolasco earned the American Legion Scholastic Gold Medal and Military Officers Association of America Award, reflecting her academic standing, leadership ability, military discipline, dependability, good moral character and patriotism.
Although Nolasco has considered a military career, she feels more drawn to the journalism and mass communications (JMC) field in the future.
“I had planned to work in intelligence in the military and was actually going through the process with a recruiter in my senior year but chose to focus on pursuing my college education at Chaminade University. I would consider a civilian position working with the military on either intelligence or intercultural communication should the opportunity arise,” she said.
She is also interested in JMC because “I’ve always been invested in history and politics, and I like to take down accounts of historical events,” Nolasco said. “During high school, I learned about investigative journalism. Integrity is the driving factor in my life, and I was interested in stories about journalists working hard and bringing awareness to corrupt systems and individuals.”
Nolasco continues to study and explore JMC opportunities and experiences at Chaminade.
“Before college, writing was mainly attributed to standard essays or research papers, but after taking news writing classes at Chaminade, my whole perspective of what writing could be had changed,” she explained. “I discovered my love for conducting interviews and covering events and organizations. Journalism helped me to get more in touch with my community by allowing me to speak to members I likely wouldn’t have reached out to if it weren’t for my writing.”
The Silversword And Silver Wings
Nolasco is a staff writer on the Chaminade student news, The Silversword. She has numerous articles archived online at https://thesilversword.com/staff_name/lizette-nolasco/, ranging from social events coverage to social justice reporting. She will demonstrate more of her writing abilities in the Chronicle throughout this year as part of her journalism scholarship experience.
Besides being involved in The Silversword, Nolasco still participates in extra-curricular activities at the Hickam Chapter of Silver Wings, a national, co-ed, professional organization dedicated to creating proactive, knowledgeable and effective civic leaders through community service and education about national defense.
She currently serves as president of Silver Wings Hickam Chapter and was given the ‘Ilima Award in 2021 to recognize her contributions to and support for the organization’s mission. She wrote about some of the activities and accomplishments of Silver Wings Hickam Chapter in her essay to showcase their dedication to community service.
Local Service And Global Outlook
Back in 2018, Nolasco was featured on KHON-2 TV news with two other Aiea High School classmates who led the civic action #ProjectPuna, a community service donation drive to help and give relief to lava evacuees from the Kilauea eruption on Hawaii Island. Years before becoming a member of Ad 2, a partner organization of the American Advertising Federation, in college, Nolasco was already doing communication work by using grassroots word-of-mouth strategies, social media campaigns and broadcast journalism to promote their cause.
“A few classmates and I went on the news and did a segment where we talked about [#ProjectPuna] and asked the community for help with donations. It was well-received, and we collected many donations from those in our community and throughout the island,” she said.
Although Nolasco participates in several community service projects locally in Hawaii, she also has a broader global outlook. She had studied abroad on the Semester at Sea program and is an avid traveler.
“I have been to Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.S.A, Vatican City and Wales,” she said. “I am very grateful to have received scholarships to travel, and being able to experience different cultures, learn history and observe different ways of life is an incredible experience. I was able to hear stories from people who lived through intense periods of history firsthand and the lessons they want others to learn about their experiences.”
She added, “One day while living on a ship, I participated in the organization of a menstrual product drive for refugees and visited nonprofits that help rescue refugees from unstable rafts in the ocean. I spoke to the mayor of a town in Malta who was trying to promote unity and a sense of community between the citizens of her town and the rapid influx of refugee populations. On the political scale, I met the president of the European Parliament and spoke to members of the British Parliament about international relations. I went to schools and spoke to students and teachers who were driven on promoting intercultural education and communication to their students, many of whom have different backgrounds.”
Nolasco said that these experiences have exposed her to so many different global perspectives.
“It showed me the importance of educating and living with open-mindedness and engaging in intercultural communication,” she explained. “This experience will help me as a future journalist because it helped me to gain perspective from others with different life experiences, and I developed an understanding of the importance of sharing one’s story to bring awareness to our global issues.”
Both of Nolasco’s professors at Chaminade also made special note of Nolasco’s global outlook in their reference letters.
“She wants to make the world around her better, and she’s willing to do the hard work it takes to accomplish this,” said Professor Kimberlee Baxter.
“Lizette has what it takes to be a leader among her peers and shows the characteristics of a well-rounded person that would be a great addition to any company. She is goal-oriented and committed to refine her projects until it meets all criteria,” Professor Lowell Gillia added. “She conducts herself as a young professional who is ready to take on the world!”
by Edna R. Bautista, Ed.D., Journalism Scholarship Chair