Hawaii football’s Hekili Keliiliki’s desire to be a doctor solidified by coronavirus pandemic


Hekili Keli’iliki

Hekili Keliiliki was primed for a big spring under new Hawaii football head coach Todd Graham. The reps in the backfield would’ve been plentiful for the redshirt junior, who alongside Miles Reed, is just one of the team’s two running backs on the roster.

But as the coronavirus pandemic delayed sports around the nation, those reps are put on hold for now.

“Definitely a bit of a disappointment for sure with the coaches on the team,” Keliiliki told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. ”We were all excited and looking forward to spring ball with the new coaching staff and ready to get after it again, especially after coming off the success of last season. We were excited to try and build off of that so just having that canceled for the time being was pretty disappointing.”

For now, nobody is sure when or even if college football will return in 2020. The uncertainty will require patience, something Keliiliki knows something about. Before enrolling at UH in 2017, he went to Brisbane, Australia for a two-year Mandarin-speaking mission.

“I attribute everything I’ve accomplished so far in my life to those things in the past,” said Keliiliki, who was born in Utah but graduated high school in Bentonville, Ark. “I’ve learned to be very patient with different circumstances in the past, things out of my control. Having football off for the time being, it has given me extra time to focus on my school work.”

Said school work is rigorous for Keliilkli, who is pursuing a double major in Biology and Chinese. He is on track to finish his undergraduate studies in 2021. After that, he plans to get his master’s degree in public health before starting medical school.

Keliiliki says he aspires to be a doctor one day. He respects them even more than he already did, especially in times like these.

“Part of it was in high school, taking classes that were related to that like anatomy classes, different medical related classes. Those were the classes that I found I really enjoyed, the ones that I did well in as well just because I enjoyed it so much,” he said. “And then going on a mission, just realizing how much I like interacting with people and helping people out as well. That just led me naturally to go down the route I’m heading towards being a doctor.

Hekili Keli’iliki

“With everything that the medical community’s doing, what they’re trying to do is get people over this — trying to help people be as comfortable as they can as well as just trying to keep people as safe as possible. That’s definitely something that I strive to do and it just makes me more grateful for them. I have family members and friends who work in the medical field and I hear about their experience right now and how they’re out fighting it on the front line. … I’m just happy that they are willing to do that for us.”

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