Projects and initiatives that create connections across internal UH units and/or include community stakeholders and government agencies are particularly important.
The campus community at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is currently focused on two primary missions. One is our core mission to provide a rich educational and personal experience for all our students. The other is adapting and shifting to new norms as we continue that mission in the era of COVID-19. The pandemic is a difficult challenge and I am in awe of the strength and resiliency of our faculty, staff, and students to continue moving forward during these troubling times.
I have found that one key component to the success of these two missions, and indeed to the current and future success of our students, is the strength found in partnerships and collaborations. You see this in our student support services, teaching, research, and community outreach.
Since my arrival last year to UH Hilo, I have envisioned this campus as a gateway for upward mobility. This means educating and preparing our students for meaningful employment that not only brings them a high quality of life but also lifts up their families and communities. One effective way to prepare students for important regional work is to increase student engagement in applied learning and independent research for benefit of the community and the environment. Much of this kind of learning relies on partnerships and collaborations within and outside of campus.
For example, in August UH Hilo hosted a virtual symposium for students from Hawai‘i and the Pacific region to present their scientific research and projects.
The symposium was hosted through the Islands of Opportunity Alliance (IOA), a federally funded network of higher education institutions from Hawai‘i and 10 other alliance partners located throughout the U.S.-affiliated Pacific with a mission to expand access to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields for underrepresented populations. UH Hilo serves as the administrative hub of IOA group, which includes partner institutions in American Sāmoa, Guam, Hawai‘i, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Northern Marianas Islands.
With even more layers of collaboration, UH community colleges located on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui co-hosted the student symposium through a federal program meant to boost minority students in STEM, specifically to prepare them for transferring into four-year degree programs.
It’s this kind of multilevel collaborative efforts that move our students into successful futures of great benefit to their ‘ohana and communities.
Scholarships are another way that our island community collaborates with us in support of our students. Many community organizations have stepped up to provide financial assistance to students, thereby helping open those gates of opportunity.
Three UH Hilo students were each recently awarded $2,000 scholarships from the American Association of University Women-Hilo Branch. The Hilo Branch assists women and girls in the local community to achieve self-realization through education, and UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College are partners with the group to strengthen the leadership skills of students and staff and to build community relations.
Three other students, two agriculture majors and one environmental science major, each received $3,000 scholarships from the Hilo Orchid Society. The Takasaki Scholarship is annually awarded to two students, but this year the society felt it was vital to award an additional scholarship because the impacts of COVID-19 have brought financial hardships to students who would otherwise not return this fall.
And a biology student has received a $1,500 scholarship from a non-profit group that supports college students from Micronesia. The Dr. Joakim Peter Memorial Scholarship is managed by the Hilo-based Micronesians United—Big Island, a non-profit organization supporting the success of Micronesians in Hawai‘i. The recipient dreams of becoming a medical doctor to serve her homeland community.
Partnering and collaboration is crucial to our success, especially during this time of uncertain budgets and resources. Projects and initiatives that create connections across internal UH units and/or include community stakeholders and government agencies are particularly important. As our current Strategic Planning Committee has noted, our strategy has to be a team effort and true collaboration involves linking, leveraging, and aligning resources.
Many thanks to our partners and stakeholders for all your support.
Bonnie D. IrwinComments closed