Alumni Spotlight: Garrett Yamada, DPT, OCS


As a member of the Class of 1999, Garrett Yamada has a unique connection to the King Kekaulike campus.  He was a part of many firsts, from being the first to enter campus, a member of the first junior varsity and varsity football and baseball teams, first to eat in the cafeteria, a member of the first graduating class, and is one of Kekaulike’s first doctors.

Shaping the way for Kekaulike and its traditions was not always easy but there was always a sense of camaraderie.  “It was easy to get to know and interact closely with a good core of people – everyone would watch over one another,” explains Yamada.

That first year was exceptionally memorable but not because of the new facilities.  Yamada got particularly close to one of his fellow classmates and jokingly reminisces, “I met this hot chick in freshman year, copied her homework, and eventually made her my wife.”  Lynn Kajihara was that classmate, who today, has returned to her alma mater as a science teacher.

As they selected where to attend college they received some good advice.  “Our parents influenced us to leave Maui and grow up.  So we did,” said Yamada.  They both attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon and amazingly, both majored in exercise science.  After Garrett received his undergraduate degree, he decided to become a physical therapist and credits his experiences at Kekaulike with his career choice.  “It was during a football injury in high school that introduced me to physical therapy and sparked my interest in the subject,” he said.  Yamada selected the University of Puget Sound in Washington State to continue his studies and graduated in 2006 with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

After graduation, Garrett and Lynn decided to return home to Maui and wed in 2006, over 12 years after first meeting on campus.  Yamada, in his usual fun manner continues, “I am now a doctor and am smarter than her [Lynn], for real, which is confirmed by my degree,” as he laughs.

Yamada has come a long way since his days of high school homework.  He is now a full-time therapist at Elite Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Makawao, and recently became an Orthopedic Certified Specialist.

Garrett and Lynn have two children, Cade (5) and Kendyll (3), and together have become important fixtures in the King Kekaulike community.  Crediting a combination of KKHS faculty, parental guidance, and strong community support for his achievements, Yamada is now doing his part to help perpetuate the success of Kekaulike students.   He spends countless hours giving back by mentoring students, helping to form the KKHS Alumni Association, judging senior projects, and allowing students interested in physical therapy to shadow him in action.

Yamada continues to lead the way of Kekaulike firsts and before we know it, his entire family of four may be the first to proudly call themselves all Kekaulike alumni.

3 Responses to Alumni Spotlight: Garrett Yamada, DPT, OCS

  1. Maile Nachuo Primo says:

    Right on Garrett and Lynn!! Keep up that good work and dedication!! KKHS CLASS OF 1999!!

  2. Drake Smith says:

    Awesome… !!! It’s so nice to think back to those days…. I’m happy you keep doing great things Garrett…. !!

  3. Marina Patoc says:

    We always knew you would lead a successful and fulfilling life. We are so proud of you!

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