KALAHEO — While growing up in a military family can be challenging, Anaiah Christensen said she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“It was difficult, making friends and leaving them, but looking back, I don’t think I would’ve appreciated life the way I do now,” she said.
Her father, Kai Christensen, was in the Coast Guard for 21 years. His job had the family moving from California, where Christensen was born, to the Big Island, Maui, Virginia and Alabama.
Christensen, who lives in Kalaheo, has lived twice on the Garden Isle. She moved to Kauai when she was 5-years-old. When she was 10, she moved to Alabama. Four years later, when her father retired, the family moved back to Kauai.
“I remember the day we landed on Kauai — it brought back so many memories,” she said. “Leaving and coming back gave me an appreciation for the island, and gave me a sense of home.”
Christensen, who graduated from Kauai High School in 2016, was awarded a scholarship from the Coast Guard Foundation. She was the only applicant from Kauai to receive the $2,500 scholarship.
The Coast Guard Foundation awarded scholarships to 128 people across the country in 2016. The scholarship benefits children of enlisted men and women who are serving or have served in the U.S. Coast Guard.
When Christensen applied to college, she said she looked about for as much financial aid as possible.
“I happened upon the Coast Guard Foundation Scholarship, and I applied,” she said. “I ended up winning, which was amazing.”
She is attending Point Loma Nazarene University, in San Diego. The 17-year-old plans to graduate with a degree in kinesiology and pursue a career in physical therapy. She hopes to return to Kauai and open her own practice.