Skip to main content
Local News

Promising Young Scientist Aleena Arakaki: Helping Address Systemic Health Inequities and Uplifting Marginalized Communities Through an Hawaiian Perspective

By September 21, 2022No Comments

Many 12-year-olds focus on sports, the latest video-sharing platform, and wonder how to navigate peer-pressure in middle school. For Aleena Arakaki, the emergence into adolescence was an overwhelming and tragic introduction into the mortality of cancer.

Her mother was diagnosed with tongue cancer and given 6 months to live. She passed away two years later. Soon after, Arakaki’s grandmothers were diagnosed with pancreatic and breast cancer. The former died shortly after her diagnosis; the latter grandmother withstood surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy for seven years, until the cancer metastasized.

“I became determined to learn why this disease had such devastating effects and how we could stop it,” Arakaki said. “These personal experiences drive my passion to further our understanding of cancer biology with the hopes of curing more people of this disease.”