Donor Stories

Cara Nakamura '95 and David Ball – Honoring a Family Legacy by Paying It Forward

By Susan Soon He Stanton '99
For Cara Nakamura '95, Punahou was a place to dream without restraint and experience without fear, in the company of dedicated mentors and friends, and with unmatched resources available at every turn. Cara is ever grateful for her parents' decision to send her and her brother, Chris '01, to Punahou, believing this choice was one the greatest gifts her parents gave them.
And so, it seemed only fitting that Cara and her husband, David Ball, create a financial aid endowment fund in her parents' name, which Cara wrapped up as a Christmas present this past December.

Cara, now a mother of an 18-month-old daughter, says her parents have been role models of high integrity, good character and hard work. She attributes her desire to "pay it forward" to the values instilled in her by them.

The creation of the fund celebrates the retirement of Cara's mother, who worked 22 years as a K – 1 teacher at Punahou. A dedicated educator, Carol Nakamura won Scholastic Books' 2000 "Early Childhood Professional Award," for which she was nominated by a group of her students' parents. Cara believes, however, that the numerous appreciative students and parents who keep in touch after so many years are the greatest evidence of her mother's legacy.

Carol and Cara Nakamura '95 – mother and daughter. Photo by Reel Love Photography LLC.

The fund is also a tribute to Cara's father, Charles, for his tireless support and dedication to her and her brother's growth as students and individuals. "My parents had a lot of dreams for us and gave so much to send us to Punahou," says Cara. From baking in the sun at track meets to listening to mind-numbing repetitions of Variety Show dialogue, Cara's parents were tireless supporters of her every endeavor.

After Punahou, Cara graduated from Princeton University and earned an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. She has gone on to become an investment manager for Princeton's approximately $18 billion endowment, which helps to enable Princeton students who qualify for financial aid to graduate debt-free. Cara's husband, David, is a professor of English at Dickinson College and is currently a visiting professor at Princeton. Through their careers, they have become acutely aware of the importance of access to high-quality education.

The Carol and Charles Nakamura Financial Aid Endowment Fund is a reflection of Cara's and David's commitment to give students, regardless of socioeconomic background, access to Punahou's tremendous resources. Her top-notch education and fond memories of Punahou have made her feel lucky.

"I am extremely grateful," says Cara, "and I want to give back in appreciation of all of the opportunities I was afforded, while taking a moment to honor the sacrifices and accomplishments of my parents."