Leila Hokulani Kaaekuahiwi Pousima

Leila Hokulani Kaaekuahiwi Pousima

Natural Resource Policy Management Specialist


National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Honolulu, HI USA


Being able to be in Hawaii, in my home, with my community, and working on initiatives to make all of those things better is everything to me.

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Leila Hokulani Kaaekuahiwi Pousima

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Law School ChallengesWeb Exclusive
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Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
She always wanted to go into law, and she always wanted to give back to her community.
In high school, she did some volunteering with environmental groups, and she also had a deep love of Hawaiian culture.
She’d planned to just do a pre-law program, but an advisor encouraged her to talk to a Hawaiian studies counselor.
They worked out a Hawaiian studies course for her, with a focus on Hawaiian politics and natural resource management.
She then went to law school at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
She became one of very few people in the world to earn a certificate in Native Hawaiian law.
After school, she started at NOAA; she works on the Marine National Monument Program, which oversees four national monuments.
The four monuments protect over 330,000 square miles of water, and diverse coral, fish and seabird populations.
Keep following my journey

Education

High School
Bachelor
Cultural Studies/Critical Theory and Analysis
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Graduate
Business Administration and Management, General
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Doctorate
Law
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Career

Natural Resource Policy Management Specialist

I advocate for environmental and cultural policy related to marine protected areas in the Pacific.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Law
Environment & Nature
Helping People

Day to Day

A lot of what I do is working with partners to get our mandates done. A good day at work includes meeting with partners and making progress on these mandates, even when stances differ. Any time that I am learning new things about my field is a good day.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

It really helps that I have a background in Hawaiian culture and language. Though this was not part of the requirements for my position, I feel that it is valued highly at my organization and a big part of the work I do each day. This may sound cliche, but having a good attitude and being a "people person" goes a long way. The ability to create and maintain partnerships and relationships on behalf of my organization is priceless.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for high school students

Start volunteering for organizations that promote what you are passionate about. Get to know the people who are experts in that field. See if you can gain a mentor in one of these people at a very early stage.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Cultural Studies/Critical Theory and Analysis
graduate
Graduate
Business Administration and Management, General
doctorate
Doctorate
Law

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"I'm never going to get into law school, I should just do something easier. "

Challenges I Overcame

Financial