I am one of 11 children
My name is Yasmin Mahina Filiotama Gago and I am 28 year old Samoan/Hawaiian from Las Vegas, Nevada. I currently serve as the Principal of Quest Preparatory Academy’s middle and high schools. I earned my BS from BYU-Hawaii, where I played basketball; MA from Dakota Wesleyan University, where I served as a women’s basketball graduate assistant; and finishing my Doctorate degree through Creighton University. I am one of 11 children to Yasmin Hannemann and Sam Gago; I am the fifth oldest of seven girls and four boys. I am the first in my family to graduate with a college and terminal degree. In 2011, I started Polywide Sports, a non-profit company that assists Polynesian student-athletes in college placement. The company was initially started as a thesis project for my Masters degree, that turned into a company over night. Outside of work and school, I spend most of my time immersed in serving those around me. I love playing basketball any opportunity I get.
What I love most about the gospel is the Plan of Salvation. I lost a sister and grandma within a month of each other, and the easiest way I got through it was understanding the Plan of Salvation.
How has education helped you better understand your role as a Polynesian Women? Who/what have been major factors when choosing to further your education? In what ways has the gospel given you reassurance that education was the right thing to do at this point in your life?
Basketball was my out of the statistics that said I was not supposed to “make it”; a college degree was the finished product. I never imagined that basketball would somehow lead me to the position I am in today. My educational experiences have helped to shape my integrity and self-worth, knowing at the end of the day, it was me against the world. I never wanted to rely on anyone dictate how my life would be lived. I wanted to be the only person who decided the outcome of this life. As a Polynesian woman, I knew it was my duty to be an example to those around me from similar backgrounds. My family and the Polynesian community have always been major factors in continuing my education. In a workforce where I am labelled a minority, I wanted to be the one who broke the stereotypes that have coincided with Polynesians and women, for years. I wanted young Polynesian adults to emulate my example and know that we are all very capable of finishing a collegiate program. Although I am inactive in the Church, I have never doubted the intrinsic and extrinsic promptings I receive on a daily basis. In my line of work, all the decisions that I make will affect hundreds of people. Prayer and faith in my judgement have always guided me in the decision-making process and understanding that I was put in this position for a reason.
Featured Image above: Mahina Gago with her beautiful mother Yasmin Hannemann