Ignite Culture

Cole Ichikawa

Former President, Nā Kōlea Hawaii Club

LMU student and member of Nā Kōlea, Cole Ichikawa in a Hawaiian print shirt, smiling with his right hand held in the shaka sign.

Within seconds of meeting Cole Ichikawa ’24, you can’t help but be inspired by his infectious attitude and desire to build community. The student leader is a member of Nā Kōlea, which celebrates Hawaiian culture at LMU. For Ichikawa, the goal is simple: To help incoming Hawaiian students feel welcome and acclimated in their new environment.

Part of his strategy to make new students feel at home – thousands of miles and an ocean away – is to share local culture and values. And an integral piece of that approach is food.

“We know food brings people together, so we incorporate Hawaiian dishes and snacks into our gatherings,” Ichikawa said. He is also known for making “overspill” dinners where he cooks too much of one meal in his on-campus apartment and then walks down the hall to offer a plate to his neighbors.

Ichikawa recognizes that his ability to build meaningful connections is especially unique to LMU, crediting its small size and thriving student body based on community and inclusion.

A student in the LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, Ichikawa is majoring in environmental studies, a decision also influenced by his home state, noting that “sustainability has always been a huge priority of the Hawaiian community.”