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University of Hawaii law student already a committed public servant

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Brandon Marc Higa

Brandon Marc Higa wears multiple hats in his community.  In addition to attending the University of Hawaii at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law, Higa works full-time as director for Resource Development, is a model and actor, and plays the clarinet in the Royal Hawaiian Band—and in his free time, he is an avid swimmer.

Whether in his role as director, law student, or pursuing his love of the arts, Higa’s strong community involvement, both personally and professionally, has proven itself to advance the lives of others.

Higa decided to enroll in law school as he wanted to strengthen his advocacy skills and take advantage of this new knowledge to further his commitment to public service.  Soon after finishing his 1L year, he was appointed by Hawaii’s governor, David Y. Ige, to serve a two-year term on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.  In his role as Student Regent, Higa advocated for the university’s over 50,000 students, while also holding a fiduciary duty to the institution as a $1 billion enterprise.

Prior to starting law school, Higa worked in the area of public diplomacy at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, the National Diet of Japan, and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  When he started in his role as a grant writer, Higa brought a wealth of knowledge to the university system regarding best practices for developing sustainable partnerships and cross industry collaboration as well as a strong commitment to advancing research and innovation within the university and at the state level.

Reflecting on some of the highlights of his successful 10-year career in higher education, Higa remembers working on a proposal that secured $4 million of Title III funds towards advancing educational programs for native Hawaiians and helping grow the grant program at the university and being appointed to serve as the director.

Balancing full-time employment while attending law school is undoubtedly arduous work, but Higa’s journey has also been filled with many unforgettable moments and opportunities that have allowed him to grow as leader.  With a sense of pride, he recalls having the privilege to serve as president of the Student Bar Association.  One of his fondest memories was working closely with administration to coordinate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s visit and meeting her in person.

Higa’s leadership skills helped him navigate some of the challenges he faced during his term as SBA president.  In the midst of a contentious environment surrounding the 2016 presidential election, he worked closely with the administration to strengthen and unify the student body.  In addition to helping create safe spaces and facilitating public discourse around polarizing topics, Higa encouraged student participation to support the law school’s re-accreditation process and regularly invited students to take advantage of resources available through the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association. 

Success starts with self care

The secret of success is to find joy in everything one does.  When it comes to being an effective advocate, self care is extremely important.  For Higa, a balanced life entails having good health and being present at every moment.  In his opinion, “wellness, physical health, and mental health is paramount.” 

Time management, attention to detail and having exceptional writing skills have all contributed to Higa’s success as a law student and beyond.  But also important is to “stay close to your loved ones and trust that you will have the strength and support to take risks through this journey.”  Through the difficult times, Higa always likes to remember that “there’s someone less fortunate” out there and that staying healthy and happy is crucial for his work to continue to touch the lives of others in a positive way.

In his own words, Higa’s is committed “to become a better advocate for the people I represent,” and his commitment to those individuals remains strong.  After law school, he hopes to continue to support the university’s research and innovation efforts.  He remains open to new challenges and opportunities that allow him to continue to grow his commitment to being a public servant.

Andres Gonzalez Andres Gonzalez is a 3L student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law who focuses on the intersection of law and technology. He received an A.A. in Biology from Miami Dade Honors College and a B.A. in Anthropology from Stanford University. After college, Andres worked for an e-commerce platform, where he honed his customer service and sales skills, supporting both the U.S. and international markets.