Mindset Over Matter: Spirit and Health Speaker Summer Kozai

Camila Chaudron ’08

April 14, 2015

Summer Kozai visited Punahou as the Spirit and Health Speaker to share her story of struggle, perseverance and optimism with the School community in early April 2015. Summer is a Hawai‘i local who contracted a rare form of bacterial meningitis during a work-related visit to the Marshall Islands six years ago. Summer survived, but the effects of the illness led doctors to perform a quadruple amputation when she was only in her late twenties.

Summer Kozai (center, seated) poses with members of the Kong family, who helped establish the Spirit and Health Speaker series.

Despite the obstacles she’s faced, Summer maintains a positive attitude that she attributes to her strong social network: “I wouldn’t be the person I am, with the outlook I have, without the amazing people around me,” she said. A Class of 2000 ʻIolani School graduate who earned her bachelor’s at Pacific University and a dual master’s degree in accounting and business administration at Northeastern University, Summer currently works as an auditor at the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

Summer related her journey to Punahou students in grades 6 – 12 through question-and- answer sessions during Chapel that allowed her to explain the philosophy and experience behind her mindset. Summer intentionally chose the conversational Q&A format because she wanted to be authentic and relaxed with the students, and they responded with rapt attention.

“What is your favorite motto?” one student asked. “It could be worse,” Summer responded with sincerity. She expressed gratitude that her brain function and vision have remained perfectly intact, and gave examples of people around the world who are suffering from hunger, poverty and violence, putting the relatively mild suffering of the audience into perspective.

“What’s a lesson from your youth that has carried over to your life now?” asked another student, prompting Summer to share the story of her high school ceramics teacher who encouraged students to “always take the high road and own what you do. When you break someone’s piece, you leave a note saying sorry. And you sign your name.” Today, Summer continues to take ownership over her life by recognizing the power she has over her mindset and by practicing patience – with others and herself.

The audience appreciated Summerʼs relatable anecdotes and laid-back sense of humor, as demonstrated by the many students who stood in line to personally hug and thank her for sharing her words of wisdom. Her presentation also generated a warm response on social media by teachers who were moved by her honesty and positivity. Academy English teacher Maureen MacLeod summed up Summer’s visit in a tweet: “Humbled. Moved beyond words. The grace of Summer Kozai is remarkable.”

The Spirit and Health Speaker series, established in 1998 as a platform to demonstrate the relationship between spiritual and physical health, is made possible by the Dr. Raymond Fah and Estelle Kan Kong Endowed Fund and the Chaplain Kenneth O. and Doris A. Rewick Endowed Fund. Thank you for supporting this empowering speaker series.


  • 5/16/2015 2:56:40 AM

    Here is a woman who I took care of when she was at west hills rehab, and what an inspiration she was to all of us. She made us think about our lives and what can be done if a person puts their mind to it. She always semed to be friendly and always had a smile on her face. While with us she did so much for herself we could not believe it! She hardly ever asked for anything and her sweet dog Trooper was so cute! We all missed her when she left! What a beautiful person she is! When you ever get unhappy about something in you're life look and remember Summer and her life. May God watch over this beautiful woman! God bless!!! – Colleen Poukkula


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