Maui student among finalists for prestigious Duke scholarship award
Community members came together in celebration of Duke’s Night, an event recognizing young scholarship recipients of the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation (ODKF) on Monday night.
Driven by the mission of supporting the development of the individuals and organizations perpetuating the spirit and legacy of Duke Kahanamoku, ODKF awarded 39 scholarships to students from across the state.
“Through their sports, these students can represent Hawaiʻi on national and global stages and return home to be leaders in their communities,” said Sarah Fairchild, Executive Director of ODKF. “We’re honored to celebrate this next generation of leaders, and we’re deeply grateful for the supportive community that has rallied around them.”
As part of the evening, Jack Ho, a senior at Punahou School, received the Duke Award, the evening’s top student scholarship awarding $15,000 in recognition of an exceptional Hawaiʻi high school senior who exemplifies the character and values of Duke Kahanamoku.
Ho is the fastest youth to cross the Pailolo Channel, hydrofoiling for 27 miles, and the only person who has recreated the mile-long “Duke Ride” from Castles to Queen’s Beach using hydrofoil. Ho’s dream is to show aloha through the ocean, and his passion is visible in his love of surfing, hydrofoiling, paddling and fishing. He will attend the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in the fall so that he may continue his chosen sports.
Other finalists for the Duke Award included:
- Puamakamaekuikahanohaweo Maunalei Kaʻaihue DeSoto, a kanaka surfer from Mākaha, Oʻahu, who was runner-up for the Duke Award, receiving $12,500. DeSoto has won nine national titles and one International Surfing Association (ISA) gold medal. At 12 years old, DeSoto won the Waterwoman Award at the Buffalo Big Board Surfing Classic, which she won again this year. She is an honors student at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama and will attend Pepperdine University. She hopes to compete on the world stage of surfing as World Surf League’s (WLS) Challenger Tour rookie.
- Kianni Dodson from Hawaiʻi Island. Dodson paddles for Waikoloa Canoe Club and enjoys time volunteering as Key Club president and working in her school’s library. A dedicated lifelong learner, Dodson plans to attend Hawaiʻi Pacific University to become a nurse.
- Cate Ferandin, who swims competitively for Aulea Swim Club and Le Jardin Academy on Oʻahu. Outside of the water, Ferandin helps local nonprofits like Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project and Hoʻōla Nā Pua with fundraising efforts. Ferandin is a Red Cross-certified lifeguard and helped coach Le Jardin’s Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH) intermediate swim team for two years. She will pursue a degree in urban and regional planning with an emphasis on affordable housing next year.
- Kaimakana Sojot Flanagan, a senior at Punahou School. Flanagan has been recognized as Punahou Student Athlete of the Year, ranked sixth in the nation for Junior National Open Water Swimming Championships, was the overall winner of the 2022 Waikiki Roughwater Swim and broke the 37-year record in the 500 freestyle at the ILH championships. She is also a multiple Hawaiʻi Junior Lifeguard Champion and multiple North Shore Swim Series Champion, and currently serves as the Senior Athlete Representative for the State of Hawaiʻi, attending national conferences to speak on behalf of and support Hawaiian swimming.
- Spencer Fleming, an avid sailor since the age of two and a US Sailing Level 3 Certified Coach, a distinction less than 5 percent of coaches in the country achieve. Fleming races for Waikiki Yacht Club and Mid-Pacific Institute team and won an ILH championship for his high school. Fleming qualified for the US Sailing Junior Nationals in 2021 and 2022, winning the sportsmanship award in 2022. He will pursue a degree in environmental science and technology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and intends to compete for the sailing team.
- Rio Blue Imperato from Maui. Imperato has a passion for wing and foil surfing and paddles for Hawaiian Canoe Club, bringing home three silver and a bronze medal from the International Vaʻa Federation World Championships in England. She was named the team captain of her paddling team her senior year at Seabury Hall and has officially committed to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
The Duke’s Night program featured a panel highlighting Hawaiʻi athletes who have excelled at the highest levels, including Carissa Moore, Kawika Shoji and Donna Kahakui. The three panelists shared advice the students could carry into competition and throughout life.
Numerous sponsors supported Duke’s Night, including Hawaiʻi Pacific Health, Event Accents, Marcy Fleming, Outrigger Canoe Club and Raising Cane’s. Duke’s Night partners included Kona Brewing Company, Johnson Brothers of Hawaiʻi, Outrigger Waikīkī Beachcomber Hotel, Peter Biggs and Vertaccount.
With the support of generous contributions, ODKF has gifted more than $3.5 million in grants and scholarships since its inception in 1986. To learn more about ODKF’s mission and impact, visit DukeFoundation.org.