Breeze Kauakokoipohaiapuninamoku Waipa Parker is a 2L at J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, and the 2022-2023 Durham Fellow for the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion. Breeze is a Native Hawaiian woman whose life experiences have been a beacon to her ‘lāhui,’ or Hawaiian community, in her legal career.
Breeze was born and raised in Kalihi, Oahu. Although Oahu may sound like a paradisiacal dreamscape, Breeze shares that “money was always scarce, and I remember cleaning houses with my mom after school every day so that I could help them keep up with our family’s bills. As I looked around me growing up, I noticed that it was minorities like me who struggled the most. It was families like mine who had to deal with a combination of poverty, underfunded school systems, and racial bias. I wanted better for myself. I wanted better for my lāhui.” Breeze realized that the way she could make it better was by pursuing higher education.
Breeze graduated from Brigham Young University as a co-valedictorian of the anthropology department in April 2021. During law school, Breeze has been volunteering at the Timpanogos Legal Center on a weekly basis. She has assisted attorneys in immigration, divorce, and custody consultations with members of the Provo community. This past summer she also had the opportunity to serve the Hawaiian community through a six-week in-person legal internship at the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation deals exclusively with Native land disputes, ancestral trusts, and water rights. During the internship, Breeze worked closely with attorneys who specialized in each of these areas to meet with clients, do legal research, and prepare cases for trial. After this internship, Breeze returned to Utah to serve as a judicial intern for Justice Diana Hagen in the Utah Supreme Court – learning more about how the judicial system works in Utah.
This past fall semester, Breeze has continued to serve Utah’s community this semester by working with Dean Michalyn Steele as one of her research assistants in her Federal Indian Law casework. Breeze shares that “working on indigent research for indigenous communities has been rewarding because it has deepened my purpose to support other minority communities. I look at my law degree as not something for myself but as a tool for the betterment of every community around me. I carry my lāhui and ancestors with me, and with each boundary I trespass, each stereotype I break, and each limit I exceed, I make a statement to the world. I show them that we young Polynesians are capable; we are more than our demographic and socio-economic status; we are more than our gender and the color of our skin; we matter and like those who feel our pain, our voices matter.” As a lawyer, Breeze hopes to close racial gaps in each community she serves in, and to promote fairness and a just system for all.
UCLI looks forward to working with Breeze this academic year as the 2022-2023 Durham Fellow and thanks the many donors who made this opportunity possible.