Maunakea Observatories suprises Waipahu High senior with scholarship

  • Courtesy photo Mary Beth Laychak, outreach manager at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, left, poses with Jean Claude (JC) Dumaslan as he is awarded the Hokuala Scholarship Award Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Waipahu High School senior Jean Claude (JC) Dumaslan became the second recipient of the $10,000 Hokuala Scholarship Award. A surprise during the July Maunakea Speaker Series, in which Dumaslan presented his leading-edge research enabled by the Maunakea Scholars Program, the funds will go toward his University of Hawaii at Manoa tuition as he pursues his astronomy degree.

“I have reviewed hundreds of scholarship applications over the years and know the great impact scholarships like this can have on students,” said Doug Simons, executive director, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. “It’s amazing to see how positively this can impact their lives.”

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The $10,000 Hokuala (rising star) Scholarship is the latest addition to the Maunakea Scholars program, awarded annually to one or more top performing seniors in the program who are going on to study astronomy in college. For students attending the University of Hawaii, the scholarship award also includes an invaluable commitment of mentorship by a leader in Maunakea astronomy throughout each recipient’s undergraduate education. Dumaslan’s mentor is Christian Flores Gonzalez, a UH Institute for Astronomy graduate student. Gonzalez mentored Dumaslan as part of the Maunakea Scholars program for the past two years.

“Being a part of the Maunakea Scholars program for two years was an amazing experience that helped me realize my passion for astronomy,” said Dumaslan. “Receiving this scholarship goes beyond anything I ever imagined, and I am so grateful to the Maunakea Observatories for supporting my astronomy dreams.”

Dumaslan received an observing run at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope last year and will receive time this summer at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility to continue his work — research opportunities professional astronomers compete for worldwide. Only the second double winner of Maunakea Scholars telescope time in the program’s four-year history, Dumaslan studied the spectra of Wolf-Rayet stars and will enter UH armed with observational data from two Maunakea observatories, a rare and special position for a college freshman.

“As soon as JC received his first observations, he immediately realized that to continue on his project he needed more data in another wavelength of light,” said Mary Beth Laychak, outreach manager at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

“That leap to wanting to know more is what sets JC apart and will serve him well in Manoa’s astronomy department.”

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“We want local high school students to be inspired, as well as equipped with the skills needed to pursue their dreams,” said Simons. “The Hokuala Scholarship helps students bridge between high school and that critical first year of college.”

For more information about the Maunakea Scholars program, visit www.maunakeascholars.com.

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