Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

With Great Honor Comes Great Responsibility

On Thursday, May 14, 2015 a scholarship was created by former University of Hawaii Warriors football coach and my friend, Jeff Reinebold under the larger umbrella of the June Jones Foundation.

Coach June Jones has been one of my most loyal and "consistent" friends.  Despite leaving the Warriors to "speed up the process of progress" within the University of Hawaii's Athletics Department, we have maintained a great friendship.  Simple text message exchanges were just part of our weekly activities.

As I navigated a new path in life towards being an instructor at a flagship institution of higher learning, I kept up with the Southern Methodist University Mustangs football team.  When they qualified for the Hawaii Bowl, twice, I was probably just as ecstatic as the SMU supporters!

I was blessed to speak at the pregame chapel for SMU each time they came.  Pastor Norman Nakanishi, head of Grace Bible Church (GBC), and Anthony Holyfield, worship leader of GBC, invited me to share my testimony with the players and coaches who attended chapel.  The first time was exciting, but I was still growing in my faith.  In 2012, the SMU Mustangs were invited to the Hawaii Bowl, again, and I was presented with an amazing platform to share my story with the team again during pregame chapel.

There was a sense of calm around the whole team in 2012, despite being underdogs to the Fresno State Bulldogs.  I spoke at chapel, with Pastor Nakanishi, and simply was grateful to see my friends again.  I shared my testimony, which was a tad stronger as a result of my growing faith.  I asked Coach Jones how he was doing and he said he was happy to see me; I said something to the effect of, "Enjoy every moment of this day, June!"

Approximately 75 to 80% of the team attended chapel that day.  Every player and coach came up to shake my hand after I spoke.  I knew it would be a special day.

I arrived at Aloha Stadium before SMU did, but I met them at their team bus and walked into the locker room with my friends.  "Take care of Brian; get him a polo shirt, Flash," June told his equipment guy.  Putting on a Mustang red shirt felt just "right," even if I was, and still am, a loyal Warrior supporter.  SMU demolished Fresno St., marking another strong showing on national TV.

By this time, Jeff Reinebold found his way to the Canadian Football League and was coaching for the Montreal Alouettes.  We still kept in touch with calls and texts.

In 2013, I received a text message from June saying he had an idea to run by me.  I didn't know what it would be, but I was asked to be a speaker for their annual football banquet in Dallas.  It was an easy decision, as the opportunity was too great to pass up.  June's assistant, Terry Gardner, did an outstanding job in arranging everything for me and my parents.  Everything was first class and I had a great time visiting Dallas.

My highlight, aside from seeing my friends again, was meeting an impressive young man, Kelan Lawson.  Kelan had learned about me somehow and I did a little video greeting for his school, Curtsinger Elementary (I think).  Meeting Kelan in person was just extremely special, along with meeting his family.

Kelan is a chatterbox, I'm more of a listener, so it worked!  I answered every question that Kelan had, there were many; based on his questions, I have no doubt he'll go on to achieve even greater success than I could even dream of.

The morning after the banquet, I spoke at Trinity Church, as Pastor Joe Martin had graciously invited me to speak at two services.  That was a blessing!

One aspect of the trip to SMU that just worked seamlessly was transportation.  June provided me with a transport service, which Terry Gardner found; the driver, Nick, could not have been nicer!  We got a tour of Dallas, as Nick didn't want my parents and I to only see the SMU football facilities.

Fast forward to 2015.  I received a call from Jeff saying he wanted to run a idea by me.  So, I called and we had a conversation about establishing a scholarship in my name.  I couldn't take this seriously at first, as it was a "pipedream" brought up at dinner in New Orleans, after a not so favorable outcome of the Sugar Bowl.  Jeff would start calling more and I could sense his greater seriousness each time.

He was persistent, so I finally caved in and said, "Okay, let's do it."  Jeff was flying to Hawaii before starting camp with the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the CFL.  So, the plan was to have a press conference to announce the scholarship.  I'm not a fan of press conferences or having attention be solely on me.  I like being behind-the-scenes and just going about my business quietly.  So, even the notion of a press conference had to be sold to me by Jeff.  I know, I'm terrible about just accepting things.  [Thank you, Jeff...really!]

I chose to have the press conference at Wist Hall's student area, which houses the College of Education (COE).  I chose this venue because I call this "home" now, along with wanting to provide an opportunity for the COE to shine brightly.  Thanks to Malia Mallchok!

Days leading up to the press conference were tough, I'll admit.  I was just NOT feeling the press conference, as I thought it was unwarranted attention.  I was also in the midst of trying to wrap up my spring semester of teaching, as an instructor for the Department of Special Education.  If I did NOT show up, it would reflect poorly on me, making me look unappreciative (which could not be farther from the truth!).  Up until the morning of the press conference, I really was opposed.  But the end result was worth it, as the scholarship, the Brian Kajiyama Heart of a Warrior, could help many young people of Hawaii.

The purpose of the scholarship is to support high school seniors in Hawaii to pursue post-secondary education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; specifically those who have gone through life challenges and have triumphed in the face of adversity.  Life challenges can be anything from broken homes, homelessness, disability, socioeconomic, etc.  This scholarship will not be not limited to focusing on any particular challenge.

May 14, 2015 blew me away.  First, to see my friends from athletics there - Dr. Jim Little, Ben Yee, Jeff Reinebold, June Jones, Mike Lafaele, Khevin Peoples, Lance Samuseva, Jake Ingram, Miah Ostrowski, Derek Inouchi - was just SO special.  And then to see friends from the COE; that really blew me away.  Jennifer Parks, communications director for the COE, arranged things so well.  Having Dean Dr. Don Young and Dr. Kavita Rao share words about me was surreal.

I composed a short talk the night before and tried to express sincere appreciation to everyone who has been a part of my life.  It was also a moment when the fact that I no longer had grandparents hit me; my grandparents were so supportive of all that I did.  Especially my grandpa, Haruo Kajiyama.  He would have LOVED meeting June!

The amount of lei I received was CRAZY.  I still think back to that day and just think, "WOW."

So, a scholarship had been established and announced.  Done deal, right?  No!  The real work started after the press conference.  One was clearing up how to donate to the scholarship fund.  People can send funds via check made out to "June Jones Foundation" but also need to write "Heart of a Warrior scholarship" in the memo, so funds go to the correct fund.

The mailing address is as follows:
June Jones Foundation
P.O. Box 11330
Honolulu, HI 96828

There is no option to donate online; we're working on this.

The response has been overwhelming and I now realize how much responsibility comes with such a great honor.

As mentioned, we are aiming to help as many high school seniors in Hawaii to pursue higher education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  I also plan to mentor the scholarship recipient for the first year, with the idea that the recipient will serve as a mentor for the next student awarded the scholarship.

Despite being drained, I had to power through grading after an event that felt like a graduation!!!  I dug deep and graded, as I would normally (taking NO short cuts), providing substantial feedback to my students (45 in all!).

Not to mention preparing for summer school!  It was a hectic and crazy time, but through it all I learned even more that God will always place me in situations that I CAN handle, along with being reminded of how many amazing people I'm blessed to have in my life.

Jeff has started coaching training camp, so I've tried my best to keep the momentum from May 14 going strong.  I'm hoping that this entry will also clear up all confusion about how to donate to the scholarship fund.  One of the local TV stations  that covered it shared misinformation that could potentially cause donations to go to an incorrect entity.  [This was interesting to observe - how people attending the same event and hearing the same information, how each person interprets or hears information differently, along with how it is reported to through news stories or articles.]  Again, ALL donations should go to the June Jones Foundation, with a note in the memo indicating the Heart of a Warrior scholarship.

A scholarship in one's name is such a special honor, but one that comes with great responsibility.  I need to do all I can to ensure that the scholarship will flourish in all areas - funding, soliciting applicants, reviewing essays, and scoring objectively.

I'm hopeful that we can help many children of Hawaii to pursue higher education at my alma mater and current workplace, the University of Hawaii at Manoa!  I fully believe in my school, and I believe the COE has some of the nicest people you'll find on campus.

If you have questions about the scholarship, e-mail

Here's a link to the scholarship's website:

June Jones, Mian Ostrowski, Jake Ingram, Jeff Reinebold, Lance Samuseva, Khevin Peoples, Mike Lafaele, Ben Yee

 Dave Reardon, Jeff Reinebold, Mike Lafaele

 Me and Dr. Kavita Rao

Zeus (my service dog from Assistance Dogs of Hawaii yawning)

I shared this quote from Helen Keller in my remarks on May 14, 2015:
"I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."
When fortunate enough to have a scholarship established in your name (while still alive), you have a grand responsibility to never refuse the something you can do.

Thank you to everyone who has played ANY role in helping me to become the person I am today; there's still much to be accomplished, I assure you I'll do my best to do positive things.
Until next time....

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  • At 8:23 AM, Blogger Wallace said…

    Your humility and graciousness is this blog write-up, but especially in your day-to-day living. Truly, you serve as an example to us all of who a great teacher really is and I can think of no other person who deserves this honor as much as you do. I congratulate you on this new vista you get to look out beyond with this accomplishment. Your being my classmate, colleague, mentor, and friend over the years is such a privilege for me. I'm looking forward to witness the lives you'll touch and what you'll accomplish next! Many blessings to you and your family, my friend.
    KÅ«lia i ka nu'u!

  • At 7:40 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    Thank you, Wallace!


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