Located in Campus Center 307, the Pacific Islander Student Center (PISC, pronounced "peace") was established in 2010 through the generous support of a $1.9 million grant by the US Department of Education to facilitate the success of Pacific island students at UH Hilo. In 2012, UH Hilo received a 5-year AANAPISI grant to fund staffing, services, and programs of the Center.
Recognizing that under-represented students are sometimes marginalized on college campuses, the Pacific Islander Student Center at UH Hilo encourages and supports the achievements and contributions of Pacific Islanders on campus and in the surrounding community.
The goals of the Center are to:
- provide a welcoming, supportive and safe environment
- facilitate the retention and graduation of Pacific Islanders
- increase interaction and dialogue among students from different cultures
- support intercultural understanding and social justice in the pursuit of a more just society
- enable students, faculty and staff from all cultural backgrounds to learn about Pacific peoples, histories, languages, cultures and contemporary issues
- combat stereotypes and ethnocentrism
These aims are to be realized in part through educational programming, which promotes changes and growth in knowledge, attitudes and behaviors throughout the campus community.
Vidalino Raatior, M.A.
Director, Pacific Islander Student Center & AANAPISI Project
Campus Center 311
Vid comes to UH Hilo from Santa Clara University where he worked as the Assistant Director in the International Programs Office and as Associate Director of the Center for Multicultural Learning for over 10 years. He has also worked as Assistant Director and as a teacher at Xavier High School in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), widely regarded as the best high school in all of Micronesia. Originally from Chuuk, FSM, Vid received his bachelors degree in communication from the University of Guam, a masters degree in school administration from University of San Francisco, and is currently working on his doctorate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He co-founded the Fanapi Foundation to help the outer islands in his home country of Micronesia. Vid has been very involved in public educational reform efforts in Chuuk State and social justice, which you can read about on his website and blog at www.raatior.com.
Desha Staley-Raatior, M.A.
Educational Specialist, Pacific Islander Student Center & AANAPISI Project
Student Services Bldg 211 & PISC, Campus Center 307
Desha provides various support services to Pacific Islanders and is affiliated with Student Support Services Program. She received her BA in psychology from Arizona State University and her MA in international and multicultural education from University of San Francisco. Desha comes to UH Hilo with experience working as Assistant Director of Student Activities and as a Projects & Training Specialist at the University of San Francisco (USF). In her capacity at USF, she taught college success courses, coordinated leadership development programs, assisted with implementing orientation programs, advised student organizations, and organized and implemented professional and student staff development programs. She also worked as Assistant Principal at Xavier High School in the Federated States of Micronesia and has worked as a community health educator in Arizona and California. She is the co-founder of the non-profit organization Micronesia Dental Support Project.
Denise Uehara, Ph.D.
Researcher, Pacific Islander Student Center & AANAPISI Project
Denise serves as a part-time Researcher on the project, conducting studies, investigating factors that facilitate the success of Pacific Islanders in higher education. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at UH Manoa, where she has worked since 2005, and previously worked for many years with Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) in Honolulu as a Senior Research Associate. Dr. Uehara has conducted numerous studies and evaluated many programs in education, including throughout the Pacific Islands region. Her extensive experience in the area of research, evaluation and assessment will not only enable her to make significant contributions to the project, but will also enable UH Hilo to develop and disseminate best practices to the nation on facilitating the success of Pacific Islanders in higher education. In addition, we will be utilizing her expertise to assist Student Affairs personnel with building capacity in evaluation and assessment, such as with developing and assessing learning objectives and outcomes.
Director, International Student Services & Intercultural Education
Principal Investigator, AANAPISI Project
Student Services Center
The Pacific Islander Student Center & the AANAPISI Project was made possible through the efforts of Jim Mellon who has had a long-standing interest and commitment to the Pacific island students after having served as a volunteer teacher in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. Jim began serving as the Director of International Student Services & Intercultural Education in July 2011. He is the Principal Investigator for the AANAPISI Grant and oversees the staff, services, and programs of the PISC. Having previously worked as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at UH Hilo, he is very familiar with the University and its students. Jim earned his bachelor's degree from Duke University and master's degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he was immersed in intercultural learning and programs as a grantee with the East-West Center. His goals are to facilitate the success of international students, as well as to promote the development of intercultural competence among all students with an emphasis on social justice.
The Student Assistants work at the Center to welcome visitors and to help manage the Center's services and programs.
Program Assistants coordinate some of the key programs and services at the PISC.
Position: Team Leader
Major: Business Administration
Island: Chuuk, FSM
School: Xavier High School
Position: Program Assistant (On-Call)
Major: Administration of Justice
Island: Republic of Palau
The tutors hold office hours at the Center to help Pacific islander students with their academic work.
Position: Business & Writing Tutor
Island: Yap, FSM
Position: Graduate Assistant - Math
Island: Kosrae, FSM
The Pacific Students Media team aims to combat negative stereotypes of Pacific Islanders in the United States particularly in Hawaii through digital storytelling and other mass medium.
The PISC Advisory Council advises the Director on the Center’s services, programs, and its capacity to support Pacific islanders succeed in higher education. It is representative of the uniqueness of the Pacific island groups, cultures, and needs at UH Hilo. Members include the presidents of the various Pacific island student organizations, members of the faculty and staff, partners in the local community, Pacific island alumni.
The council is created for the purpose of advising, leading, and preserving the ideals upon which the Pacific Islander Student Center (PISC) was created and helping to ground the PISC'S services and programs in the reality and challenges of our unique island cultures and students.
Members (AY 2014 - 2015)
- Faailoilo Ma Sun - President, Tupulaga O Samoa mo a Taeao (The Samoan Club)
- Yvonne Johnny - President, International Student Association
- Calvin Myazoe- President, Marshallese Iakwe Club
- Kathleen Gikbay - President, Waab Student Organization
- Kesson Tulensru - President, Kosrae Hilo Organization
- Fenny Seklii - President, Ngelekel Belau
- Tyson Otto - President, Pohnpei Kaselehlie Club
- Atinwirong Saburo - President, Chuukese Student Association
- Dr. Craig Severance - Faculty, Anthropology
- Thomas Raffipiy - Community Member, UH Hilo Alumni
- Jim Mellon - Director, International Student Services & Intercultural Education
- Vid Raatior - Director, Pacific Islander Student Center
- liaising with their student clubs, organizations, departments
- networking with the community at-large regarding the programs and services of the Center
- assessing the needs, trends and success of the Center's programs and services
- conducting needs assessment of individual or groups of Pacific island students
- advocating for the needs of the Pacific island students at UH Hilo
- attend one planning meeting during the Fall term and other meetings as needed
A network of faculty, staff, and community leaders who support and promote the Pacific Islander Student Center's mission, services, and programs.
Members of this network will be invited to participate in any number of the following activities as time permits:
- Welcome Reception: Annual reception during the 2nd or 3rd week of the Fall term to officially recognize and welcome all new Pacific island students to UH Hilo.
- Professional Mentoring: Serve as professional mentors for Pacific Islander students
- Pacific Speaker Series: Guest speakers from throughout the Pacific region who will talk about pertinent issues regarding the region.
- Conferences: Conferences that address the needs of Pacific Islanders in higher education.
- Highly Engaged Learning Positions: Enabling Pacific islander students at UH Hilo to create meaningful jobs or projects that impact their learning while fulfilling the needs of the Pacific islander community on campus, in Hawaii, or the region.
- Pacific Islander Senior Ceremony: Annual ceremony prior to commencement to recognize graduating seniors from the Pacific islands.
Friends of PISC is open to anyone who wishes to join our mailing list. To join please email Vid Raatior (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the following information:
- Full Name
- Organization / Department / Company
- Website (if any)
- Any questions, comments, or resources that you can offer for the Pacific island students at UH Hilo.