Ahead of Sunday’s Convocation, nine Native Hawaiian graduates of the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) marked their transition from medical students to physicians at this yearʻs Kīhei Ceremony.
The ceremony, usually celebrated in the school’s Māla Lāʻau Lapaʻau, was moved to the Medical Education Building auditorium due to weather concerns. But that didn’t stop the tradition of the ceremony.
Per custom, each kauka ʻopio (young doctor) was presented with their own kīhei by a kauka (Native Hawaiian physician) from ʻAhahui o nā Kauka and JABSOMʻs Department of Native Hawaiian Health (DNHH). Much like receiving their white coats at the start of their medical school journey, the kīhei signifies the responsibility each kauka ʻopio holds as a Native Hawaiian physician.
Months prior, the nine students took time to print their own kīhei with both a class design and their own personal design. The class design is chosen by the entire group to symbolize their time together in medical school, while their personal designs depict their individual lives.
This year’s class theme centered around two traits they felt presented the Class of 2023: resilience and easygoingness. As explained by Drs. Kamuela Andrade and Bree Kaneakua during the ceremony, their class shared an easy-going personality as a whole, while their resiliency guided them through their first year of medical school. It was a unique experience for them, as the COVID-19 pandemic derailed their in-person education and forced them to transition into online learning.
The group used the nalu (wave) ʻohe kapala to print their class design: three piko to represent their past, present, and future. Kaneakua explained that while each of their piko designs holds different meanings because of their varying pathways, it is ultimately what connects them to one another.
“We have our past together, going through these four years; And now present, celebrating this weekend and graduating; and our future, as hui of kanaka ʻōiwi kauka,” Kaneakua said in her speech.
See the 2023 Kīhei Ceremony by Matthew Campbell and Janell Agcaoili: