More Than Just ‘The Mailman’ On Campus


Mariana Wheeler

Kurt “The Mailman” has been working at Chaminade for the past five years.

If you’ve seen a guy walking around the Chaminade University campus in cowboy boots with a bandana around his neck, blonde hair, and his rings on his fingers throwing up “love” in American Sign Language and greeting everyone with “have a great day and spread love,” then you have met Chaminade’s “sunshine” of the school, Kurt Van Lue.

“He’s one of the few people at Chaminade that even if you don’t interact with him closely, he’s a key component of how Chaminade runs and why it’s so welcoming,” said third-year Data Science major Sarah Carroll. “He’s passionate and very genuine, I feel like he sets a goal every day to make everyone he interacts with happy.”

Most often referred to as just Kurt, the 31-year-old has been Chaminade’s mailroom specialist for the past five years, and although he seems like the most outgoing person students see walking around on campus delivering boxes and mail, there is so much more to him than students know. 

“He’s so easy to talk to and you can share anything with him, he’s always there to give you the bright side of things,” said Chaminade’s mailroom associate Maxine Nehie. “He’s got that personality that’s always happy. That’s why his nickname is ‘Sunshine.'” 

Even though students often see Kurt, who most people just know as “The Mailman” and “Sunshine” around campus, often just exchanging a few words with him about their day, it’s rare for students to get to know the real him in such a short amount of time spent around him.

“I’m an open book,” Kurt said. “However, nobody hardly gets past just the friendly hello and the smiles.” 

Although he has been living in Hawai’i since 2011, growing up as a kid, he also lived in Montana, Alaska, Colorado, and the Big Island. He was born in a house in North Pole, Alaska and is the fifth of seven children in his family. While Kurt was living on the Big Island as a kid from the ages 9 to 10, he said he remembered falling in love with Hawai’i and would one day return because it has always felt like home.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been a bundle of joy and growing up, we moved so frequently, it didn’t stop me from being myself and just flowing with it,” Kurt said. “When I moved back to Hawai’i, I felt like I was home.”

Kurt chose to work instead of attending college, but he sought out knowledge by picking up history and philosophy books. He has studied Buddhism, Hinduism, and Esotericism, which is the study of obscure thought. Apart from being Chaminade’s mailman, he also has worked jobs in concrete, ranching, oil fields, and stationary stores before CUH. 

Kurt said he has never liked having a desk job, and he enjoys the freedom of his position at Chaminade that allows him to be out about and about, whether it’s answering emails, printing posters, laminating, or processing and delivering the mail on campus. Kurt views his job as going beyond just being the mailman but to also spread positivity and love around campus because the world has every opportunity to get people down and students need to be picked up every once in a while.

“It’s not hard to show a little bit of kindness towards the people going through it because everyone is going through it,” he said. “We all have to be compassionate towards one another, and I think we forget that.”

But, as happy as he always is around campus, even he has his hardest days sometimes. He said that his brightest parts of him match even his darkest parts of him. Part of what he does to maintain a cheerful spirit is meditating for 30 minutes every day and in his free time he plays acoustic guitar, sings, writes poetry, and listens to heavy metal music.

He said hearing how his positivity has touched students is the very reason that keeps him at Chaminade every day

“It just takes that one person who comes up to me and is like ‘hey man, I just want to tell you, you’re my favorite mail person, I love you man,’” Kurt said. “I also get it from people who have graduated and run into me and be like ‘you were so encouraging, I was failing a class, or was going through a test, and you just brought me back up.”

Kurt’s presence is always felt on campus one way or another. For any university, it’s common for it to make anyone feel like just a number, but at Chaminade, Kurt makes everyone feel like they are wanted and seen.

“You can tell when he’s not around on campus because there is such a huge void,” said assistant to the president at Chaminade Tina Yamamoto, who sees Kurt daily when he delivers mail to the president’s office. “I don’t think there is one person who has a bad word to say about Kurt.”