Roger Higa with some of the agents he mentors, (L to R) Cristel May Gaoiran, Kevin Martin, Maxs Yoon, Christine Cheng Medeiros, Melinda Kaneshige, and Andrew Chung.

What brings me joy is waking up knowing I have another day to make a difference in someone’s life.

Mentoring younger colleagues in his office is part of Roger Higa’s wish to give back in everything he does. For New York Life agent Kevin Martin, “seeing how Roger is helping the community makes me look at my work differently and think about ways I, too, could make a difference.”

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In the years he spent as a recruiter for Zippy’s, Roger Higa interviewed lots of high school students from Kalihi who were applying for their first jobs. “Hearing their stories, their struggles and hopes, had a big impact on me,” said Higa. “I’d gotten to the point where I felt like I had everything; but what was missing was the ability to help people who weren’t as fortunate.”

With several others, he helped to create the Kalihi Education Coalition Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to well-deserving students from the Kalihi-Palama area—many of whom are first in their families to go to college. “Even a small scholarship can have an impact on someone’s life,” explains Roger.

“HCF has really helped me make the kind of difference I’ve always wanted to.”

Though he now works for New York Life mentoring 15 agents in the financial services and insurance industries, Higa still thinks of his life’s purpose as being “all about helping others.” He guides newer agents in the hopes that they will be not only successful, but also fulfilled. “I’ve brought several of my colleagues to HCF events so they can learn about charitable giving in Hawaii, and when appropriate, share it as part of a larger conversation they are having with their clients.”

“In my own little way, I’m hoping others will follow my lead.” Roger encourages everyone to give, including his five-year-old daughter.

“Most people don’t think they have the means for philanthropy,” Higa admits,“but everybody can do something.”

That something, in the case of Roger Higa, is quite a lot.

Through more than 200 scholarship funds, HCF helped 1,400 students pay for college last year, including this student who received assistance from the Kalihi Education Coalition Scholarship Fund.