A military officer is asked to make a multitude of decisions that affect the lives of those under their command. Retired Brigadier General Paul Chinen ’57 is thankful that his accomplished career was built on a strong moral foundation that guided his decision making.
“I think the most important life lessons that Maryknoll gave me have to do with moral values: understanding myself, understanding the world – God’s world – understanding the family, the community and knowing that everything we did focuses on those values,” says Chinen.
Growing up in rural Kailua in the 1940s and 1950s, he never imagined a career as a military officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Coming from Kailua as a farm boy, I was very introverted, but Maryknoll inspired me, gave me confidence and helped to develop my leadership skills and my people skills,” he says.
Even before the days of STEM education, Chinen was interested in math and science and pursued engineering in college thanks to teachers who encouraged and equipped him to follow his interests.
To this day, Chinen remains inspired by the Maryknoll Sisters who founded the school and their wisdom and commitment to service.
“The Maryknoll Sisters were very smart, very knowledgeable when they picked the motto, Noblesse Oblige, (which means ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’),” he says. “When you look at families, communities, society, if we did not interact and work as a community in cooperation, we wouldn't have a community. So it’s critical and very essential that everyone work together and give back to that community as a whole.”
The legacy of the Maryknoll Sisters endures to this day through the school’s alumni like Paul Chinen, who actively carries on the tradition of Noblesse Oblige.