At home, Katelynn Kubo, ’20, begins her workdays before others have sipped their first cup of coffee. Picking flowers, fertilizing the fields, harvesting fruits and vegetables, and pulling weeds are tasks that occupy most of her time. By early afternoon, she can rest.
It’s an exhausting, labor-intensive morning routine for Kubo, who grew up on a farm owned and managed by her parents in Hakalau, Hawaii. When Kubo arrived at La Salle University in 2016, she was equipped for a rigorous schedule, high-impact academic course material, and athletic commitments.
“My early years shaped who I am, in many ways,” said Kubo, who played water polo at La Salle. “You have meetings, classes, study groups, and office hours at La Salle, but working hard was nothing new to me. I was ready for the challenges that awaited me here.”
Kubo, a nutrition major at La Salle’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, is a graduate in the University’s Class of 2020. Recruited to compete for the University’s water polo team, which launched its inaugural season in her first year at La Salle, Kubo found a home sight unseen. She had not visited Philadelphia, nor had she toured campus before enrolling.
A first-generation college student, Kubo sought a university that would support and challenge her, test her resolve, and give her an opportunity to compete athletically at the highest level—even if that meant requiring a 14-hour flight to visit her family.
“The relationships you forge with your classmates and professors here are special,” Kubo said. “Everyone is always here to help you. That means something.”
A leader in and out of the pool, Kubo served as the secretary on La Salle’s student-athlete advisory committee (SAAC). A collection of student-athletes, the SAAC provides insight on the student-athlete experience across all intercollegiate teams and offers input on rules and regulations that affect student-athletes at NCAA member institutions.
To Karle Linden, ’21, Kubo is “one of the hardest working people I have ever met.”
“Anything she is passionate about, she excels at. She always pushes herself above and beyond,” said Linden, a teammate on La Salle’s water polo team. “I can’t wait to see where the future will take her.”
Each summer, before beginning a new academic year, Kubo would return to the farm to support the family business. She and her parents, Christian and Heather, and siblings, Christian Jr. and Kira, managed the farm. They produced fruit like banana, guava, and passion fruit, and vegetables like garlic, green onion, and taro. The farm also yielded tropical flowers like red caribaea, bird of paradise, and sexy orange heliconia.
While at La Salle, Kubo also spent portions of those summer months working professional affiliations and internships with registered dieticians, observing nutrition practice, helping with patient care, and participating in nutrition education.
“The multicultural, multiethnic make-up of Hawaii lends itself to lots of gatherings and celebrations, and as anyone knows, you don’t eat well when you’re at a party,” Kubo said. “Additionally, everyone eats rice with meals. A career in this field is an opportunity to change so many lives through education. There’s this barrier that exists between native Hawaiians and healthy eating. My desire, eventually, is to bring my training and education back home and make a difference.”
In her capstone research project, Kubo surveyed 100 student-athletes to gain an understanding of their sports nutrition knowledge and needs for nutrition services. She intends to share the findings with Brian Baptiste, J.D., La Salle’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation.
Kubo expressed gratitude to her parents, siblings, grandparents, and teammates “for all the support and love over the years.” Upon graduating from La Salle, Kubo will move to Las Vegas, where she will begin a two-year graduate program at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. There, Kubo hopes to attain a Master of Science degree in nutrition sciences.
“Katelynn is a wonderful representative of our Lasallian ideals,” said Laura Frank, Ph.D., associate professor and director of La Salle’s didactic program in nutrition. “Her dedication and talent have brought her success at La Salle, which she will apply to her future profession and personal life. I’m particularly impressed that she is committed to returning to Hawaii after completing her professional training to give back to the underserved population there through improving their health.”
—Christopher A. Vito