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Building a Future With Faith

Sisilia Kaufusi, a senior majoring in social work from Laie, Hawaii, shares how her desire to help people and create connections with others has profoundly shaped her academic and spiritual growth through her faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sisilia Kafusi in front of the BYUH campus.
Photo by Douglas Ferreira

Heritage and Service

Kaufusi's path to BYU–Hawaii began with a desire for a deeper connection to her heritage and a stronger foundation for her future. "I attended a different school before coming to BYU–Hawaii, but after serving a mission, I knew I needed a place that would better prepare me for my future self and family," Kaufusi said. "I chose BYU–Hawaii not only because I have family here, but because it would help me become a future leader in my community and challenge me to grow. Being Polynesian, the connection to my ancestors and the opportunity to study social work, something I truly love, drew me here."

Kafusi looking up to the Tongan flag
Photo by Douglas Ferreira

Attending BYU–Hawaii was not just an academic decision but a spiritual one for Kaufusi. She yearned for an environment where she could integrate her faith into her daily life and studies. This environment, she felt, would best prepare her to serve her community and future family.

“So Much More to Learn”

On campus, Kaufusi embraced the benefits of integrating spiritual learning with her academic studies. "When you combine academics with spiritual learning, you gain so much more," Kaufusi said. "One quote I live by is, 'There is so much more that I need to learn.' Every day in class, I realize there’s always more to do and learn. Having a spiritual perspective helps me grow as a person to become someone that Heavenly Father wants me to be, and even more than I envision for myself."

She also found that the spiritual environment of the university created a deeper level of personal growth. The practice of starting classes with prayer and incorporating gospel principles into discussions enriched her learning experience and provided a solid foundation for her future career in social work.

A Strong Foundation for the Future

The opportunities at BYU–Hawaii have significantly influenced Kaufusi’s personal and professional life. “This school has opened doors for me through future jobs and internships, and it even led me to my spouse, whom I met on campus," Kaufusi shared with a smile. "The connections I’ve made here are invaluable. I can confidently say that if I went to Tonga, Samoa, or anywhere else, I’d have friends and professional connections there. The skills and experiences I’ve gained in social work have built a strong foundation for my career."

Portrait of Kafusi sitting on a bench.
Photo by Douglas Ferreira

She credits the university for not only providing her with academic and professional opportunities but also for helping her build a network of friends and colleagues around the world. These connections have expanded her horizons and provided a support system that will continue to benefit her throughout her life.

Moving Forward With Faith

Kaufusi is committed to giving back to BYU–Hawaii and its community by becoming a leader and exemplifying the values she has learned. "To me, being 'genuine gold' means becoming a leader that embodies the attributes of a lifelong disciple of Christ. Whether in my community, family, or chosen field, the person I become after BYU–Hawaii will reflect the education and love I received here," she said. "I love the quote from Doctrine and Covenants section 6, verse 36 that says: 'Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.' Moving forward with faith means not doubting myself, but trusting in what I’ve learned and looking to Heavenly Father for opportunities."

As she prepares for her graduation, her dedication to serving others and her commitment to her faith are evident in her actions and words. Through her journey at BYU–Hawaii, Sisilia Kaufusi has not only grown academically and spiritually but has also prepared herself to be a leader and servant in her community. Her experiences reflect the university’s unique integration of faith and education, nurturing a generation of students who are dedicated to serving God by serving others.