Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Sacred Hearts Academy  |   Honolulu, Hawaii

Ka Leo

Ready, set, go

Seniors Amber Wolfe, Kana Barlag and Daphne Ibrao celebrate National Letter of Intent (NLI) Day at the Elks Lodge in Waikiki. They committed to sports programs at their colleges of choice. Photo courtesy of the Ibrao Family.

The second semester is the busiest time for seniors who are preparing for college. Seniors Kana Barlag and Malaika Ssebayiteko knew from the start that they wanted to pursue specific programs at their dream schools. 

For Barlag, applying to Gonzaga University became a priority after learning more about the rowing team. 

Barlag started rowing at the end of her sophomore year. She originally paddled, but because paddling is not a collegiate-level sport, she began rowing instead. 

“Rowing is a sport that you can start later in life and still improve quickly,” Barlag said.

“I’m proud of myself for improving at rowing very quickly despite starting late,” Barlag said.

To build up her resume, Barlag joined new sports, like volleyball and basketball. Outside of sports, she also plays the violin and the piano, as well as volunteers at a hospital. 

Barlag found out about Gonzaga through her father. The school stood out to her because of its size and location in Spokane, Wash. For her personal essay, Barlag wrote about her cultural background. She put emphasis on her Japanese culture. She wanted to showcase her ability to speak fluent Japanese. With this, she hopes to bring diversity to Gonzaga.

“Gonzaga was the only university that does not conflict with my intended major, nursing,” Barlag said.

Barlag’s favorite part of rowing is hearing the splash when the ore hits the water. She loves being on the water. 


For Ssebayiteko, applications, interviews and acting auditions filled her senior year, as she applied to several colleges. But her dream school has always been Howard University.

Howard University is known for its black excellence, as it is part of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). After attending an acting program at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) last summer, Howard moved to the top of her list of prospective colleges. She wants to pursue an acting degree there.

During Ssebayiteko’s acting audition for Howard, she performed two scenes. She chose both a dramatic and a comedic monologue. Despite being nervous, Ssebayiteko said she had a successful audition and felt like she was able to showcase her true character.

“My voice and (ethnic) background are what make me unique,” Ssebayiteko said.

Ssebayiteko applied to six colleges, including Howard University, New York University, Loyola Marymount University, DePaul University, Syracuse University and Marymount Manhattan College. 

“I want to experience new things, especially a new environment with people who identify (with) me,” she said.

Ssebayiteko wishes to engage more within the black community, noting that such an opportunity is not possible while living in Hawaii. 

Although Ssebayiteko experienced rejections from other colleges, she found out that she was accepted into Howard University right before Christmas. 

“It was the best Christmas present ever,” she said.

Senior Malaika Ssebayiteko poses in her cap and gown to commemorate her senior year of high school. She will attend Howard University in the fall and major in acting. Photo courtesy of Ssebayiteko.
About the Contributor
Danielle Woo
Danielle Woo, Reporter
Danielle is a second-year Journalism student and a junior at the Academy. She hopes to learn how to write creative stories and improve her writing skills. She loves to travel and explore new places. A fun fact about Danielle is that she likes to explore new foods!
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