Former UH Hilo educator gives back

Audrey Furukawa and friends establish endowed scholarship for study abroad program

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Posted: Aug 12, 2008

"I wanted to act on my belief in the personal transformational impact of global education and its ultimate outcome in achieving world peace."Audrey Furukawa

During her 30-year career as an administrator and educator at UH Hilo, three personal core values have driven Audrey Furukawa: family, friendship and opportunity. Now, with the help of family and friends, she will give others in her community the opportunity to study abroad by establishing the Audrey S. Furukawa Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment.

Furukawa made the lead gift upon her retirement from UH Hilo, and then enlisted the community to raise additional funds. "I wish to extend a very special thank you to my family and the many friends who joined me in creating this endowment," she said. "I am deeply honored by your participation and generosity in establishing this educational legacy. Your gift will enable eligible Hawaiʻi students to begin their global education journey and open infinite doors of opportunity. New geographical and cultural landscapes will enrich their lives and expand their vision. The impact of your gift is immeasurable and everlasting."

To be eligible, students must be enrolled fulltime as an undergraduate at UH Hilo and show academic merit as demonstrated with a minimum 3.2 GPA. The study experience will be at least one semester and reserved for students who have not studied, traveled or lived abroad for more than a month. Preference will be given to Hawaiʻi high school graduates.

Furukawa values the opportunity to give back. "It is difficult to verify how lives are enriched and how world peace can be achieved through global education and exchange," she said. "Yet I am convinced of the positive impact of global education, and wish to make such educational opportunities a reality by establishing this endowment."

She credits her family — husband Ronald, daughter Liane Higa and son Tyler - as her passion and inspiration. "We each have journeyed near and far and shared joy and sorrow," she said.

"I also cherish the many friends who have journeyed with me and shared their love and support through my trials and tribulations," she added. "And I applaud the students, the true teachers, who are so eager and bright-eyed to experience the world and leave their indelible and hopeful footprints for peace and harmony."

A lifelong resident of Hilo, Audrey Furukawa attended Hilo College, the predecessor of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, when it was a two-year institution, and then went on to earn bachelor‘s and master‘s degrees in education from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She spent over 30 years as a faculty member and administrator at UH Hilo, retiring in 2008 from dual positions as Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, and Director of the Center for Global Education and Exchange, which she established in 2005.