On Monday, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin and Hawaiʻi Community College Interim Chancellor Susan Kazama met with the education committee of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaiʻi.
“We provided updates from our two campuses, and had a great conversation about pathways from high schools and how we might increase the college-going rate for Hawaiʻi Island,” says Chancellor Irwin.
“My dream for UH Hilo is that every student will be able to do something meaningful outside of class, whether it is research, studying abroad, an internship, or community service,” says Irwin. “A student told me that studying abroad at another university opened a door of opportunity she did not even know was there. This is what I see happening at UH Hilo.”
Access to these opportunities for as many students as possible is a high priority for UH Hilo. Behind every support fund or scholarship is a person or company committed to making higher education available to all students, Irwin says.
“Members of the local community who give their support to UH Hilo see it as an investment in the future.”
Irwin recounts how a past experience served as the inspiration behind the creation of the fund. Reflecting on her time at another university, she vividly recalls accompanying 17 students and four faculty members to a conference, traveling across many states by plane and car, and having their meals together.
“The rapport we established among the students and with their faculty created lasting memories and instilled in the students confidence in what they learned,” says Chancellor Irwin. “I still tell stories from that trip, and I am still in touch with those students, watching them grow in their careers. I want students and faculty at UH Hilo to have these same experiences, assuring students that they are ready to join the leagues of professionals in their fields.”
A vision for changed lives and transformed communities
Increased student engagement in research, guided by the exceptional faculty at UH Hilo, is expected to result in a higher number of graduates pursuing post-baccalaureate degrees. Irwin hopes this long-term vision will change lives and the Hawaiʻi Island community.
“Some students have the resources and knowledge to seek opportunities, but others find them beyond their reach…and I think funds like the one I am establishing help create more of these opportunities. UH Hilo is a hidden gem, a place where cool things are happening all the time. Our challenge is to make more people aware of our excellence, our dedication, and our aloha,” Irwin says.
The documentary is directed by filmmaker Alana DeJoseph, a former Peace Corp volunteer who attended Monday’s screening. A Q&A with a lively audience followed showing of the film.
The Peace Corps has historical significance to UH Hilo. Hawai‘i Island was chosen as a primary training location for thousands of Peace Corps volunteers in the 1960s and the university’s precursor—UH-Hilo Branch—contributed greatly to the training program.
Many who attended Monday’s showing are return Peace Corps volunteers who returned to Hawai‘i Island to settle down and build their careers, becoming productive members of island communities.
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Athletics and the Vulcan Booster Club honored two Hilo families at the Vulcans Legacy Dinner on Friday at the Hilo Yacht Club.
Steve and Emma Handy, and Joe and Diana Hanley, and their families, have been ardent supporters of not only UH Hilo and Vulcans Athletics, but also the entire Hawai‘i Island community for decades.
The Handy family, Steve and Emma and son Steve Jr., owned and operated East Hawai‘i Subway franchises up until recently. “They have supported Vulcan Athletics as corporate sponsors and boosters since the late 1990’s,” says UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin.
The Hanley family owns Orchid Isle Ford, and the family has made numerous contributions to the community. “Father, Walsh Hanley (now deceased), was one of the original Vulcan Boosters and a proud supporter of UH Hilo Athletics,” says Chancellor Irwin. “His legacy of support for Vulcan Athletics has continued to this day through the Hanley Ohana and Orchid Isle Ford.”
“Through their vision and generosity, these families have made our community a better place,” says Pat Guillen, director of UH Hilo athletics. “Whether through generous donations and sponsorships to fund operating needs and scholarships for athletics, or working on clean water projects in Fiji or founding the Children’s Justice Center for East Hawai‘i, the impact that the Handys and Hanleys have made are immeasurable and truly inspiring. I am proud to call them my friends and I am a better person for knowing them.”
Proceeds from the event benefit the Vulcan Booster Club in support of Hawai‘i Hilo Athletics’ 12 sports teams and their student-athletes.
“This Vulcans Legacy Dinner honors those who have done so much for this community, our university and our athletics department,” says Keene Fujinaka, president of the club. “Our honorees this year epitomize the values and sense of giving, which makes Hawai‘i Island so special. These families have a legacy of generosity while asking for nothing in return. We are honored to recognize both the Handy and Hanley families and are so grateful for their continued support over many years.”