Kevin Uyekawa, 41, will enter his senior year at Eastern this coming fall.
The single father of a 5-year-old son is majoring in mechanical engineering while holding down a paid internship and logging a lot of miles in his car.
Uyekawa can continue his education and pursue his goals – with a little more breathing room – thanks to an EWURA scholarship that is providing $3,105 to help with expenses for the upcoming 2023-24 academic year.
“The scholarship definitely helps me to not be so stressed out financially,”
he says, adding that it will allow him to better prioritize school, spend more time studying and tackle added childcare expenses as his son, Kaleb, starts kindergarten.
Graduating with minimal debt will also help Uyekawa realize a goal of moving from their apartment into a home with a yard so that Kaleb can have more space as he grows up and the family can get a dog.
To make ends meet, and gain vital work experience, Uyekawa works at Keytronics, in Spokane Valley. As an intern in the Automation and Design Department, he designs test fixtures for final-stage products as well as automation fixtures to facilitate different processes in an assembly line.
“It’s the exact type of engineering I want to do,” he says. “I got really lucky.”
Uyekawa works 25 hours a week but that doesn’t account for the time spent driving back and forth from his home in Spokane to classes, to his son’s daycare in Cheney, and to his job in Spokane Valley.
Uyekawa juggles a lot but says it’s worth it to be a role model for Kaleb. When his son is older, he looks forward to guiding him through the college process. Originally from Temecula, California, Uyekawa was working as a tire technician at The Tire Store in Spokane when Kaleb was born and recalls thinking, “I want to be able to support my kid and be able to get out of an apartment and into a house, what am I going to do?”
EWU was the answer. Uyekawa, who is determined to make the most of his education and set himself up for a successful career, is an example of a hard- working student seeking to balance the demands of school, work and life.
Although he experiences stress from his multiple responsibilities, Uyekawa is able to stay positive because of opportunities at Eastern – like the EWURA scholarship.
Eyekawa is grateful to the retirees: “I just want to say thank you. It really helps boost my confidence in that I’m doing the right thing and that’s a huge thing, getting support from people who believe in me.”