Mazie Hirono meets with students at her alma mater -- the University of Hawaii.
She marvels at the Starbucks and bake sales at Campus Center -- a far cry from what the 1966 Kaimuki High School graduate and psychology major saw in Manoa when the Vietnam War was ongoing. It was a pivotal event she says steered her to politics.
"I got involved in the anti-war movement here. I wasn't one of the leaders, but it certainly opened my eyes to questioning what our country was doing and one thing led to another," said Hirono. "I became friends with activists and leaders here and then we decided we don't want to be just protesting. We need to think how better we can affect change."
Hirono became involved in peace candidate George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign.
It wasn't until 1980 she would run herself for a seat in the state House of Representatives where she served until 1994.
She ran for and won the Lieutenant Governor race in 1994.
After losing a gubernatorial bid to Linda Lingle in 2002, Hirono set her eyes on Congress, winning a seat in the U.S. House in 2006 where she has been reelected since and now what she calls a marathon run for the U.S. Senate.
A constant in her campaign is husband Leighton Oshima. Their first introduction was at a Young Democrats meeting in 1974. It wasn't love at first sight.
"She was wearing her peddle pushers and rubber slippers and carrying a stack of books and tablets and made me very leery about this person who on a Saturday morning would be so intense to take copious notes of whatever we were talking about," said Oshima.
Fifteen years later, there was a spark. They've been married for 23 years and the attorney doesn't miss a weekend day canvassing.