My name is Mikelah Hanohano, and this is my testimony.

I would like to share my story in hopes that whoever reads it will know where to go to when they need financial guidance and hope to make their dreams become reality. I opened my account at Hawaii First FCU in 2017 when I was 13 years old, where I learned about saving. Then, at 16 years old, I opened a youth checking account. I learned how to use a debit card and how to manage a checking account.

During my junior year in high school, I decided to get a part time job. I was given a great opportunity at KTA Super Stores as a courtesy clerk. I then cross trained a nd became a cashier. As soon as I graduated high school in 2022, I opened a secured Visa credit card. I learned how to responsibly use a credit card. I used it only for what I needed, and I paid for it in full every month. Hawaii First FCU taught me to safeguard my credit. They taught me what to do and what not to do to keep my credit in good standing.

After I graduated high school, I attended online college at Grand Canyon University while continuing to work part time at KTA. I had a couple of scholarships, however I still had to take out a student loan. What I didn’t know was that I had two student loans and one would start accruing interest in January of 2023, this was not explained to me. I decided to add up how much debt I would accumulate over 4 years of schooling, and I was overwhelmed. I didn’t really know what I wanted major in or what I wanted to be. I felt like I was wasting my time at a very high cost of debt. I decided to withdraw from college and work until I figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and save my money. I paid off my two student loans with what I had saved.

In December of 2022, I was offered another great opportunity to basically get paid while I learn about the finance industry. I got the opportunity to learn one of the most important things young adults should learn that they are not taught in high school. I feel that understanding the finance industry is very important for everyone to understand, especially young adults because they are just stepping out into the “real world” and most do not have financial guidance. This opportunity at Hawaii First FCU is like learning with hands on training at the same time and getting paid for it! I started at Hawaii First FCU as a Member Service Representative. I am learning so much more about the finance industry and how to provide people with hope. I am currently working on becoming a Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor. Although I have much more to learn and grow, I see a lot of opportunities here at Hawaii First.

This month, I qualified for a brand new 2023 Toyota 4-runner with 2 points off of my approved interest rate and because I started building my credit when I was 18 years old, I was able to get approved with a lower interest. I am a first-time auto borrower. I never thought I would purchase a brand new car at 19 years old. This would not have been possible without the financial guidance of Hawaii First FCU since I was 13 years old. This would also not be possible if Hawaii First did not have the products to assist first-time borrowers. Hawaii First FCU also has loan products that give people a second chance at rebuilding credit like our pot of Gold Auto Loans. My next goal after paying off this vehicle is to build a home. I know without a doubt that Hawaii First will help me achieve my biggest goal, which is becoming a homeowner.

I urge anyone who needs financial guidance, anyone who needs to build or repair their credit, anyone who needs hope to a brighter financial future to come to Hawaii First FCU. They got me where I am today and will definitely help me get to where I want to go.

Mikelah Hanohano

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