KAANAPALI - With a give-back approach to life, Lahainaluna High School senior Stephanie Lawless is a winner.
The daughter of Gina and Steve Lawless is a runner, leader, photographer, tutor and artist, and her talents recently earned her more than just another trophy on her crowded shelf.
At Duke's Beach House's Fourth Anniversary celebration on Dec. 6, the 17-year-old shared the stage with legendary Hawaiian musician Henry Kapono.
Lahainaluna High School senior Stephanie Lawless speaks to the crowd at Duke’s Beach House after being named the winner of the restaurant’s second annual T-shirt Design Contest, adult division.
As the winner of the second annual T-shirt Design Contest, adult division, Stephanie won $300, and her holiday design was produced into a limited edition T-shirt currently on sale at Duke's and posted on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DukesBeachHouse along with a video memorializing the event.
After the presentation at the popular TS Restaurants locale at North Beach, Kaanapali, and with barely enough time to rest on her laurels, Stephanie and family headed south to Lahaina for another ceremony at the historic Old Lahaina Courthouse at 6 p.m.
Her entry in the 36th annual High School Senior Art Competition, Exhibition and Scholarship Awards Program sponsored by Lahaina Arts Society took first place in the photography category for her picture entitled "Psychedelic Love Affair."
The prize was $500. Her underwater snapshot along with other scholarship entries and winners will be on display at the downtown Lahaina Old Jail Gallery through Jan. 5.
Diversity is an apt description of the youth's skills.
She has competed in eight half marathons on Maui, placing first in her age division in all of them. In her debut full marathon competition this year, she finished tops in her age group as well.
Stephanie is the president of the LHS Chapter of the National Honor Society.
Her community service resume includes restoration projects with Maui Cultural Lands. She's tutored eighth-graders for the majority of her high school career, and "I volunteer with the Sacred Hearts Bazaar every year," she added.
Stephanie is a student of Nancy Young and the Art Department and Art and Communication Pathway program at Lahainaluna.
She's shadowed National Geographic photographers Ira Block and Flip Nicklin as part of her training experiences.
She attributed the program with the advancement of her skills.
"I'd like to express my gratitude to Nancy Young; she honestly makes it very easy to be passionate about art. She's helped me do a lot of neat things; get involved in some amazing programs and art shows over the years. I'm very grateful for my teachers at Lahainaluna, who have helped me pick a pathway," she said.
As her teacher, Young is rightfully proud of Lawless but stressed the importance of parent participation in the success of their charge.
"with students like Stephanie, it's the teachers who are happy to thank them and their parents for the respect and discipline they show us," Young advised.
Stephanie recognized her mom, Gina, as her inspiration. "(She's) always been there to motivate and support me in all aspects of my life. Through running, school, extracurricular activities, she has instilled perseverance and self-motivation in me - something that will progress me to move forward in my life every day," the Lahaina born-and-raised teen told the Lahaina News.
Gina has good advice for her daughter: with patience and determination, great achievements are made.
And Stephanie has high aspirations: to attend the University of San Diego and earn an undergraduate degree in political science, possibly continuing on to law school.
With the monetary help from Duke's and Lahaina Arts Society, Stephanie is on her way and humble.
"I'm very grateful to LAS for contributing their funds to invest in the youth of Maui. It's a great honor, and it will be very helpful in the long run. I desire so desperately to get the best education I can, and that can be quite costly. I cannot express how truly grateful I am to receive such aid," she said.
She also acknowledged Duke's.
"It was such a great experience to see them give back to the community and see the morals and ethics they hold as a business. I hope to have a work ethic like Duke's one day. They are always giving back to the community and sharing a sense of aloha," she concluded.