Student Q & A: Ikela Moniz-Lewis

David Ikela’ela Kahoali Moniz-lewis, also known as Ikela, is a third-year senior at Sierra Nevada College. He has dedicated his time at SNC to creating a welcoming and safe environment through his heavy involvement in the resident life department. His passion for changing the world around him drives him in everything he does, finding himself creating music that leaves an everlasting impact on the world.

Photo: Dejaneri Maestas
Junior Ikela Moniz-Lewis takes a break from making music to meditate.

Why did you choose SNC?

Basically, I had committed to Lynfield College for football on a full-ride scholarship. I went to visit the school and realized I did not like it whatsoever. I talked to the head coach and he said that if I got hurt I would lose all of my scholarships because I was there on an athletic scholarship, so I was in this crisis where I was going to this school that I wasn’t all about. Then, I was in my physics class when I got an email from SNC saying ‘Apply today!’ and it was through the common application, so it took like two seconds. That same day they asked if I wanted to come and tour the campus, and afterwards I decided right then and there that SNC was where I wanted to go.

What’s the story behind your name?

It’s Hawaiian. My mom was born on Oahu, and my father’s name is Israel. Ikela’ela is Israel in native Hawaiian. Kahoalii is a very popular Hawaiian name. Moniz is my mother’s maiden name and Lewis is my father’s name. My first name is Da’vid technically, but it is spelled David because my birth certificate and my social security have two separate things, I had to get rid of the apostrophe.

What is the most obstacle challenging that you’ve faced as a college student?

Balancing all of the things I have going on like extra curriculars and academics while still having time to be me and relax.

How do you feel about the lack of racial diversity on campus?

I’m kind of used to it because I grew up in Carson City. Racially at least, there’s obviously not too many black kids on campus. I was one of the only black kids in Carson up until I got into middle school, so I was always like the token black kid which was fun. I enjoyed it! That was my label, and people looked at me like ‘Oh you’re cool because you’re black and athletic!’ It’s nothing new to me, but I feel like everybody is everybody. I think the best diversity to have is diversity of mind, not necessarily culture. I think we have enough of that on campus to make things pretty interesting.

What do you feel you are most
passionate about and why?

Making the word better because I literally have nothing better to do. Eliminating the amount of suffering in the world. My passion is the only reason why I continue to exist.

What’s the kind of world you want to grow up in and have generations after us growing up in?

A world that isn’t driven by capital. A world where people don’t care about the end-term profit of the next X amount of years or X amount of time instead of a world where people are okay with what is going on right now and concerned with doing the best they can right now to make right now as good as possible.  Keeping in mind future and not making things detrimental to the future. In other words, sustainability.

Do you feel like you’ll be able to say that college is the best years of your life and how important do you think college is to your success later on?

Yeah, I mean all the years have been good here. I don’t know if I could say that they’re the best or not the best because I’m a different person at every stage. College is incredibly important to my success! I would not be the same person had I not gone here. Not even because of academics but experientially.

What are your ideas on how to create that sustainability?

Kind of sounds cliché, but honestly mindfulness, meditation, and creating a community in which people are safe enough to explore themselves and supported enough to be ready for what they find. That’s why I’m going to start a meditation club on campus! It’s just a group where we can sit and learn to meditate, creating a nice environment where everyone can calm themselves.

How do you feel SNC is adding onto the change you wish to see in the world?

SNC is a small school so I have a lot of resources at my disposal. Whatever I want to try to accomplish on campus, including the resident life department with Lizzie, Will, and Henry I’ve been working to switch around strategies to aim more towards the goal of a safe environment for everyone to be themselves and explore.

How do you feel you can include what you love to do in your free-time into your passion for creating a change in the world?

They go hand and hand if you look at Bob Marley, for example, who literally used reggae to end a civil war in Jamaica and push the people in Zimbabwe to claim their own independence. I’m actually researching using binaural beats, which are auditory frequencies that change the state of your brain, with meditation to amplify the effects of meditation.