Less than a month after Keely Clark walked across the stage to receive her diploma from Oklahoma Christian University, she packed all of her belongings into four suitcases and boarded a one-way flight to start a new life for herself in Hawaii.
Originally from Oklahoma City, OK, Clark majored in public relations and graduated from Oklahoma Christian in December 2018. She is now living in Kihei, HI, and said she knew she wanted to move to the Aloha State before she ever visited the islands.
“Moving to Hawaii has always been a huge dream of mine since high school,” Clark said. “I wanted to live in a place that was always warm and close to the beach. My junior year of high school, I visited for about a month and then knew for sure my heart belonged here and that I was going to do whatever it took to move here after I graduated.”
Clark is currently working on her substitute teaching certification and hopes to eventually become an elementary school teacher. In the meantime, she said she is working at a snow cone stand and taking time to explore the island and make friends before she gets into a set routine.
“A typical day for me is waking up so excited, even if I don’t exactly know what is in store for the day,” Clark said. “I wake up and go on a run, jump in the beach to swim afterward and then walk over to the farmer’s market to get fresh fruit. Since I do not have a car here, I have been riding my bike everywhere and taking the bus, but I am about to get a moped, and I am very excited about that.”
Thanks to family connections, Clark was able to rent out a furnished room and bathroom in a house just half a mile from the beach.
“It is very ‘community style’ living, and that is what a lot of people in Hawaii do, considering living is much more expensive here,” Clark said. “Really all I had to bring were shoes, clothes and my longboard, so I stuffed it all in two suitcases and two carry-ons and was good to go. The challenging part was getting rid of so much stuff beforehand. I spent days decluttering and filling trash sacks of stuff to donate. In Hawaii, you truly live with less, and I love that it is such a peaceful and simple way to live.”
Clark said her favorite part of living in Hawaii is the beauty that surrounds her.
“Every day I am just looking around at the palm trees, ocean and rainbows that always pop up and just can’t even believe that I live in a place so amazing,” Clark said. “I am constantly soaking it in. I feel like I could never truly have a bad day here because it is impossible for me to be anything but positive when I live in paradise and a place I have dreamed of for so long.”
During her time at Oklahoma Christian, Clark was a member of Iota Kappa Phi and co-hosted a radio show for Eagle Radio.
“I never really even considered going to college outside of Oklahoma,” Clark said. “I felt extremely called to attend OC and go somewhere close to home, so I knew deciding to go to OC would allow me to soak in a few more years with my family and friends before making this huge step.”
As of now, Clark said she hopes to live in Hawaii long-term, but said being away from friends and family is a challenge.
“I have been telling my family for years that I planned on moving to Hawaii, but I think they always thought it was kind of a joke until I got closer to graduating,” Clark said. “It’s hard when you are literally living your life
long dream and all you want is for the people you love to be right there with you. I do a good job of staying in touch with my friends, and talking to my family daily has made this transition easier for me.”
Despite the time difference and missing those she loves, Clark said she would encourage anyone contemplating moving to a different state after graduation to hold nothing back and do it.
“Pray about it constantly, and God will truly guide you if it is where you are supposed to be,” Clark said. “Hawaii is something I prayed about for years, and it still has me in shock that God has made it all work out so perfectly. Trust in Him and follow your heart on where you want to live, and He will truly take you to where you belong.”