“I was born and raised in Wahiawā, Oahu, and lived there until I graduated from Leilehua High School in 1978.
“Growing up, I never had the opportunity to visit any place outside of the state, so studying hard and attending a mainland college was a goal of mine. I applied and was accepted to the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where I graduated in 1983 with a civil engineering degree. I hoped then to return to Hawaii to apply for a permanent job.
“However, while attending college, I had the opportunity to work as a co-op student at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. I loved working with the people there and chose to stay as a naval architect because of the job security in the civil service.
“There were economic advantages, too — mainly that housing was affordable and there was no state income tax. I have been blessed in my career to be able to travel throughout the mainland and a few foreign countries. I think if I had returned to Hawaii, the cost of housing and goods would have been a burden for me.
“I am now retired and still have family in Hawaii. I am looking for an opportunity to return, once I decide to sell my house and move back in with my mother and sister. Part of what’s holding me back is that I will need to find a new health insurance plan because the one I have now is not applicable to many doctors in Hawaii.
“Overall, I left Hawaii for higher education but took advantage of the widespread opportunities here on the mainland. There’s no place like Hawaii. It is still my dream to spend my last chapter on earth there.”