Small Talk

Small California college attracts large Hawaii enrollment

May 30th, 2016

It's busy behind the scenes at Menlo College, my alma mater, as the school gears up for its 90th anniversary next year. This four-year private institution in the heart of Silicon Valley specializes in business and psychology, though I was a mass communications major.

Kamana`o Hattori, my best friend in college

Kamana`o Hattori, my best friend in college. I'm all about friends of Dorothy.

The college, which has just under 800 students, was a good place for me to find my voice in the world, with small class sizes (a 14:1 student-teacher ratio). For some reason, Hawaii students make up a disproportionately large percentage of the student body (six to 16%.)

Some of my fellow alumni include:

Mike Lilly, (1966) former State Attorney General
Micah Kane, (1990) Kamehameha Schools trustee and president/ COO of Hawaii Community Foundation
John Henry Felix, (1949) CEO of Hawaii Medical Assurance Association and former Menlo trustee
Russell Sinclair Robinson, (1951) Plantation Manager of Gay & Robinson sugar plantation
Sara Sato, (1991) Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management at Hawaii Pacific University
Rick Humphreys, (1967) President of Hawaii Receivables Management

“The Hawaii to Menlo College connection is a strong one,” says president Richard A. Moran. “Students from Hawaii have a long history of success here both academically and athletically.”

Micah Kane

Micah Kane

My schoolmate Micah (actually, we also attended Kamehameha Schools at the same time) remembers how Menlo’s community impacted him. “The small school environment and relationships I was able to develop with my professors, coupled with Menlo’s proximity to Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and surrounding places like Half Moon Bay created a great environment and great energy for a young person. I want more kids from Hawaii to have that same opportunity."

Micah found Menlo also taught him lessons outside the classroom. “Menlo College was a big part of my life. I credit Menlo College for setting me on my career path."

I myself transferred in from the University of California at Santa Cruz, a public university with (at the time) eight college campuses within the university, and 11,000 students.

It was and is a wonderful institution at which to matriculate, but it wasn't the right place for me at the time. I had just turned 17 and it was overwhelming; culture shock.

In the school luau

In Menlo's annual spring luau

I needed a smaller, personalized, nurturing environment, and heard about it from some Hawaii friends who were attending. I'd visit on weekends and really miss that sense of belonging and cultural familiarity that only my Hawaii friends could offer.

With friends. I'm in blue.

With friends. I'm in blue.

It seemed like the right fit, and it was. All the roads we take lead to where we are now, and I'm happy in my now.

Steph Bates, my Menlo College roommate

Steph Bates, my Menlo College roommate (a great selfie before selfies were invented10

This combination of academic distinction and familial community are sure to account for the college's history and success. Menlo College has consistently ranked high in the US News & World Report colleges ranking; this year, it came in as number nine for Best Regional Colleges in the West. (

Thinking about attending? Check it out. Sit under the oak trees. Soak in the crisp California air. You just might find you want to stay.

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3 Responses to “Small California college attracts large Hawaii enrollment”

  1. mala:

    Neat. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Stephanie:

    Thanks for sharing! I'm a Silicon Valley native and have heard great things about Menlo for many years. It seems like a wonderful institution.

  3. Kimo Kala:


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