Grabowsky persevered to make it to Chaminade


Professors Gail Grabowsky and Wayne Tanna promoting the Environmental Studies.

Professor Gail Grabowsky is a friendly, energetic and athletic person who loves the environment.

She feels like people need to have the century experience, an example of this would be going out on location. Knowing and seeing invasive plant species and removing it by hand (getting the full hands on experience) instead of getting the virtual experience.

Moving from California to Arizona then Duke and eventually making her way to Hawaii, and working at Chaminade for 15 years and within that time becoming the director of the environmental studies program, Grabowsky is the epitome of perseverance by getting to where she is today.

She went from being a student whose life was playing volleyball, to a professor that teaches the next generation about the environmental issues.

When talking to her she told me some great stories about her college life. She said that she started off at Arizona State and ended up transferring to Duke University.

In high school, her parents talked to her about going to college out of state. They told her “they would only pay for a state school, so if you want to go out of state you got to figure it out.” The only ways she could do that was if she got a scholarship. So she had a choice, she could either be “a musician, a jock or a brain” and she ended up going down the jock path.

Grabowsky went to the University of Arizona on a scholarship though volleyball.

Her friend that had played for Arizona told her, “Don’t go there. The coach is mean.” Since she liked the school so much she ignored her friend’s warning.

When she got there she found out that the coach was extremely mean, she told a girl on the team “you can’t jump anymore, you’re too fat.”

After a year of listening to this woman’s criticism, Grabowsky came back her sophomore year after playing beach volleyball over the summer and getting in shape, she finally snapped. After a game she told off her coach and got kicked off the team.

She was devastated but said, “That was the best thing that ever happened, I studied really hard and got straight A’s that semester.”

Her mother told her that, “Duke had a really good volleyball team and that her uncle had gone there and loved it.”

So Grabowsky had transferred to Duke because she was getting good grades.

By working hard and persevering she succeeded in going to college on a scholarship and getting into Duke.

At Duke, Grabowsky felt like it was a completely different atmosphere from Arizona, a lot of the people there came from wealthy families or they were really smart.

“It was the third day of class and I was riding my bike around and it was raining,” said Grabowsky. “I had a mud stripe going up my back… I was sitting in calculus. This chick next to me had a little sute on and a little matching tam hat. … she was a sorority girl and she was looking at me like oh god.”

She’s sitting there all confused thinking “What is she beefing about?”

“I figured I was so earthy, country, I’m a jock and school.”

After that she felt like she had to step her game up, she got some C’s that year but at the end she was able to get A’s.

It was stressful for her being put next to private school students but it was a great experience for her. “Duke was good it trained me.”

She had to change her state of mind and step up her game to keep up. In the end after all the hard work she succeeded and graduated from Duke in Biology.