It’s not often that our childhood fantasies turn out to be true. For many of us, our dreams of going to the moon one day or riding on the back of a garbage truck are never realized.
But for the lucky ones, like Dan Mangum ‘18, the life they envision as a child turns out to be exactly what adulthood is all about.
Growing up, Mangum had two passions in life: music and basketball. And a family trip to Hawaii in the fourth grade left him determined to make the islands his home as an adult.
Now, as a young professional, Mangum has made a career for himself in both music and basketball, all from his island home in Honolulu.
As a high-school senior in New York, eight years after that life-changing trip to Hawaii, Mangum had his eyes set on studying in the Islands. He explored a few schools, but Chaminade stood out. He liked that the classes were small and that he would be able to form relationships with his professors and classmates.
“I didn’t want to be just another statistic in the classroom,” describes Mangum. “I was hoping to develop long-term relationships with my professors and classmates, which, looking back, was absolutely the case.”
His parents were also impressed with how responsive and attentive the Chaminade staff was. It’s not easy for a parent to agree to let their child travel 5,000 miles away and across the Pacific for school. But the Chaminade admissions team took the time to answer all of their questions, no matter how small they were. That put his mom at ease.
At first, Mangum was struck with culture shock. Hawaii was polar opposite to New York—he had grown up with long, cold winters and a fast-paced energy, and suddenly he was surrounded by a warm tropical climate where everything operated on island-time.
Chaminade was also the most diverse school he had ever attended.
“At Chaminade, my immediate group of friends included people from American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii and Australia,” says Mangum. “I don’t think you’re going to get diversity like that many other places.”
It didn’t take long for Mangum to adjust to the island lifestyle. He’s always been an outdoorsy person, and Oahu had so much to offer. He knew a lot of people that went off to college and started spending a lot of time at parties and at bars, but he didn’t want that for himself.
“I didn’t want to fall into the trap of just going to bars for four years,” he recalls. “Being on an island gave me healthier choices and provided alternative sources of fun, like hiking, surfing and diving.”
He remembers one of his philosophy professors, Dr. Peter Steiger, taking him and a few of his friends out surfing one morning during his freshman year.
“He woke us up at 5 a.m. and took us to this awesome local surf spot,” says Mangum. “He spent the day surfing with us and teaching us about local culture. I don’t think there’s a better place to learn philosophy than during sunrise on the ocean.”
But Mangum’s favorite class was news writing with Adjunct Professor Kim Baxter. He liked the class so much that he took it twice. Mangum was a writer for the student newspaper, the Silversword, and Baxter used to work for ESPN. She knew Mangum was a huge sports fan, so when the Clippers came to Honolulu for their pre-season games, she got Mangum a press pass to attend the team’s games and practices.
“I remember sitting courtside at this game, and I was right next to the reporters from the L.A. Times and ESPN. And here I was this 21-year-old kid from Chaminade,” says Mangum. “Not only was it an experience that I don’t think you can get at any other school, but it really gave me confidence that a professor who I had a lot of respect for was willing to put her reputation on the line for me.”
At Chaminade, Mangum was also part of the Hogan Entrepreneurial Program. Students who participate in the program meet several times a week to learn the ins and outs of starting and running a business, and they network with business leaders around the Island. He found a second family through the Hogan program and a true mentor in retired Hogan director Dr. John Webster, and it gave him the connections he needed to launch one of his companies post-graduation—an adult basketball league.
Today, the league meets weekly at the Honolulu Club and encompasses four teams and over 30 players. The sales manager at the club was familiar with the Hogan program, and had faith enough in Mangum to offer up the space for the league’s games. One of Mangum’s Hogan mentors now also plays in the league.
As a communications major, Mangum took away two key lessons: how to write and how to market. He believes he’ll use those skills for the rest of his career.
After graduating he became the full-time marketing director for Nextdoor, a cinema lounge and concert hall in Honolulu’s Chinatown. He promotes their concerts, secures sponsorships and works with musicians to encourage them to visit Honolulu while on tour.
He also started his own company to book shows for musicians on the neighbor islands, and to market and promote events and small businesses. He loves his job—it puts him in contact with some of the musicians he used to idolize as a teenager.
“These are all musicians that I was a huge fan of in high school,” says Mangum. “And now, just a few years later, I am able to be in business and work with them, which was a pretty cool realization.”
Coronavirus lockdowns have put much of his career on hold—concert venues are closed, musicians have paused their tours and the basketball league is postponed. But as a Chaminade graduate, the importance of adaptation and change is deeply ingrained in him. The core Marianist value has proved crucial as he finds ways to navigate the future.
“We’ve been adapting with various strategies to make sure we stay relevant, to find new ways to operate,” says Mangum. “I definitely credit Chaminade’s core values for helping me think through that.”
Mangum doesn’t know what the future holds, but if he can continue on his current path, he’ll be a happy man.
“I really love what I do now,” says Mangum. “I just hope to keep expanding and do it on a larger scale. Some day, I’d love to sell out something like the Blaisdell Arena. For now, I’ll just keep working harder and doing more.”