YOUR Gift. YOUR Legacy: Ruby Lowe KSK’61

April 22, 2024
Ruby lowe ksk61

Ruby Lowe KSK’61 is reminded of the importance of giving back every July while attending the Ko‘olua Scholarship Reception as donors and their scholarship recipients come together to build pilina and share mana‘o.

Lowe founded the Hisashi and Helen Hasegawa Scholarship in 2023 to honor and remember her parents and their belief in the importance of a college education.

“My father was an elementary school principal and six of us became teachers; my sister and I received financial support from Kamehameha Schools, so it became important to give back and help others,” she says.

The $25,000 endowed scholarship fund provides an annual award to a college student from Lāna‘i, Maui or Moloka‘i (in honor of her family roots) pursuing a degree in education, with a preference for those focusing on elementary education.

Lowe shares that having access to excellent elementary education is crucial for laying the foundation of lifelong learning and its impact extends beyond academics, shaping social skills, emotional intelligence and character that are essential for success in future educational pursuits and life.

Lowe entered Kamehameha Schools (KS) as a boarding student in seventh grade and recalls gaining a new sense of independence, while missing her family from Moloka‘i.

“Kamehameha really taught us to be independent,” Lowe says. “I told my mother in sixth grade that I wanted to stay home and help her. But she told me to go, and I was fortunate that I had sisters here when I came to school, so I always had family around. I learned to live away from my parents and I was so amazed with all the things KS was doing like music and art appreciation. All those things made us well-rounded in the Western world because in those days, that was the focus.”

While in college, Lowe treated the experience “like my job” and earned her bachelor’s degree in three years by taking summer school courses at Denver University and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, while studying full time at Greeley State Teachers College (now known as the University of Northern Colorado). Lowe began her teaching pursuits at age 20 in West Covina and Long Beach, California, where she worked for a few years before moving to Vietnam with her husband, James Lowe, and eventually made their way back to California before returning home to Hawai‘i.

“I said to my husband, ‘they’re offering me a job at Kamehameha,’ and he said, ‘I leave it to you!’ So, I took the job and my husband got a job as an engineer and it all worked out. I love Hawai‘i, and so did he, so it wasn’t a problem.”

Lowe retired from KS after 33 years as kumu at multiple grades.

“My favorite students were my third graders,” Lowe recalls. “They’re young, they listen to their teacher, and it’s also like you can do no wrong. As the years went by, I went to fourth grade then extension education for a reading program where I taught seventh graders at King David Kalākaua Middle School. The kids there sometimes would come with no supplies; they were good kids, and I would take it upon myself to have them apply to Kamehameha Schools. I was quite happy because they were so capable. They all had good hearts, I loved my time there and my director, Julie Williams, was so supportive.”

Lowe moved back to KS Kapālama to teach as part of the reading program with no more than eight students at a time, so the classes were small and intimate. Lowe eventually transitioned to the English department where she taught seventh and eighth graders before eventually retiring for the first time in 2004. She returned to work at KS part time at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Heritage Center from 2010-2017, and retired for good after completing four decades of serving the KS ‘ohana.

“I’ve been enjoying life,” Lowe says when reflecting on being retired. “I loved teaching so much that I spent my weekends getting ready for the next week because I was so excited!”

Lowe hopes that others will follow her example and give to the Pauahi Foundation with the collective goal of helping more Native Hawaiian haumāna achieve their educational aspirations.

“Pauahi was a teacher and she’s the one who gave us all we have here to this day,” Lowe says. “When I see the next generation of kids, I’m so thankful and blessed to be Hawaiian and it’s important to give because you’re following Pauahi’s example – there’s no better example, what a wonderful person she was.

“This is our homeland. There’s no greater gift than what she left us. I’m not sure she realized the magnitude of the gift she was leaving, and I give credit to Charles Reed Bishop as well for helping her leave such a legacy.”