HomeNative HawaiianAspiring Native Hawaiian Healer wins national award.

Aspiring Native Hawaiian Healer wins national award.

When the wildfires swept through Lāhainā and other parts of Maui, UH Mānoa’s Ashley Mainani Lee partnered with Maui Medic Healers Hui and was among the first medical responders. She felt that her community “[lost] their history and their culture.” She went from learning in the classroom to hands-on care to provide for the community and help those who were struggling to overcome this heartbreaking time. 

It’s just one of the reasons she’s been honored with the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee Excellence in Public Health Award. 

Her inspiration of healing stems from her home in Keʻanae, Maui. Her tutuman (grandfather) Enos Akina was a lāʻau lapaʻau (Native Hawaiian medicinal) practitioner and also a Kalo farmer. 

Throughout Lee’s medical school journey at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, she has aspired to restore the health of Native Hawaiians. 

Lee is currently a third-year medical student. She was also the president of UH’s medical school Ka Lama Kukui Indigenous Health Interest Group. There she focused her research on tying in ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i (Hawaiian Language) with medical education. 

During her time spent on Maui helping those recover from the fires, she was described as “…a trusted and friendly face who went into the community to provide care”. 

Lee looks back on the history of Native Hawaiians, their health, and the importance of community.

“It’s recalling everything that happened and why Native Hawaiians are in the health state they are today. For me, it’s trying to restore them to their original state of health through traditional Hawaiian diet, bringing them back to our culture, through ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, and figuring out how we can incorporate those things into medical education and practice.”

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