Holeka Inaba graduated in 2016 with a double major in Communication Studies and Integrated Educational Studies. He went on to complete a Master’s of Science in Health and Strategic Communication in 2017. In 2019 he decided to run for County Council in his home state of Hawaii. We caught up with him to see what he’s been up to since graduation and why he decided to run for office.

What have you been doing since graduation?
Since moving home to Kona, HI, in July of 2017, I began working part-time for my mother’s consulting firm that offers customer service evaluation services. I’ve also been serving as a substitute teacher and wellness coordinator for a local Hawaiian language immersion school that I attended as a student. In addition to these responsibilities, I’ve found myself serving on the board of two local nonprofits, and I’ll be running for county council here this year.

You are running for County Council in your home state of Hawaii. What made you decide to take on this challenge?
I decided to run for county council because I feel my community deserves a leader who has unwavering integrity and who can provide straight answers and educated decisions. Ultimately, however, I was encouraged to run by family friends who felt I would be a good fit for the position and our community.

How do you feel your communication degrees will help you in your run for office?
It’s funny because my communication degree has helped me in more ways than I ever expected. In terms of running for office, I think back to the wide range of information I learned regarding messaging, and yes, communication theory. My communication degree from Chapman has and will continue to allow me to work well with and for my community. In addition, the research skills I learned in the communication program continues to help me in the doctorate program I am currently enrolled in. Essentially, Chapman’s communication program has given me the tools I need to make decisions based on research and facts, a trait that is a necessity for someone running for office in this day and age.

What courses or professors do you feel have helped you the most since graduation?
Thinking back to my time at Chapman, certain faculty members and classes stand out as highly impactful. One of these classes was Public Speaking, which I took at the beginning of my undergraduate program. Having taken this class, I have found myself prepared and unafraid to speak in front of crowds. In addition, I have to thank my professors (Dr. Bevan, Dr. Dorros, Dr. LaBelle, Mr. Leighton, Dr. Liang, Dr. Miller-Day, Dr. Tukachinsky, Dr. Waldeck, and Dr. Weber) in the M.S Health and Strategic Communication program for instilling in me a sense of academic resilience that I never knew I needed before the program.

What is one of your favorite Chapman memories?
One of my favorite Chapman memories was my time spent with my M.S. cohort. Although I was ready to move home to Hawaii after completing my undergraduate program, our tight-knit cohort was a solid group that trusted and relied on each other. I’ll always remember these individuals who were supportive and dedicated to seeing each other grow personally and academically.

What advice do you have for current students?
For those just starting, halfway through, or almost finished with college, do what you need to do for yourself. Don’t worry about what’s going to secure you a high paying job or position. Find ways that you will be able to support your community, and you will be fulfilled. Three months ago, the thought of running for public office had never crossed my mind. Ride with the tide, and you will find your way.