Samuel Chiu

Join aquaculture major Samuel Chiu from Lakeridge High School in Portland, Oregon, as he shares his passion for sustainability in both land and sea – his dream of learning “cool science in cool places” brought him to UH Hilo. Discover what “Connecting Learning, Life and Aloha” means to him, in this special edition of the “My Journey” Vulcan V.I.B.E. series.

Video by: David Zachary Ramos

Hannah Wallace

Hannah Wallace's photo

Name: Hannah Wallace
Degree: Teaching/Education Certificate 
Year Graduated: 2016
High School: Frederic Remington High School 
Hometown: Lubbock, Texas
Current Employment: Access Services Associate, Texas Tech University
Previous Employer(s): Research Analyst/Braille Collection Lead, Hutchinson Public Library; Disability Services Coordinator, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo

What is your passion?
My passion is cultivating equal opportunities and experiences for students who may face unique challenges while managing disabilities as they learn to navigate through their academic journeys, and develop a sense of independence as they discover what the world has to offer! Above all, my most intense interest is making sure each individual has an equal chance at whatever he/she/them chooses to do, because it is my biggest belief that there is truly no limit to what one can accomplish!

What are you most proud of? 
I’m most proud of my parents and siblings. As someone with disabilities myself, my parents always set expectations for me. They had clear, consistent and concise rules, and this left no room for guessing on what was expected. Because of this, I never made excuses for myself when I met my match at something. I knew my abilities, I knew I was different, but I knew and still know I am more than capable of doing anything in this life that I set my mind to.

And to my siblings…if you ever want to know how to treat the disabled, look no further than the siblings of a child with disabilities. They’ve sacrificed so much, they’ve given time, blood, sweat and tears. Compassion isn’t a word that comes close to describing them. I can only hope they understand how much I look up to and admire them.

What is your personal motto?
I set high standards for myself because I know I am capable of absolutely anything, and that is what the people I help deserve, nothing less.

What are your hobbies?
Doing research and traveling. 

How would you describe your personal journey in life?
I’d describe it as a dream. Sometimes when you wish long and hard enough, not for yourself but for others, dreams really do come true.

Why did you choose to attend UH Hilo?
I wasn’t going to continue college, but I applied to the one college furthest away from home, really not expecting I’d get in. But I did, and the adventure began!

What is your favorite memory of UH Hilo?
I was paired with Baloo, my service dog and I met my best friend Natty.

How has UH Hilo benefited you?
Working under Susan Shirachi in Student Disability Services prepared me for my area of focus in my graduate studies program. Susan really opened the door for me to realize my passion for helping students with disabilities, especially at the college level. She harnessed my interest and helped me get a student academic advising position in the teaching certificate program my senior year. Even after I graduated, Susan has kept in contact with me, helped me develop research ideas and has aided in launching grad research in my area of interest as well. She even went as far as helping me gain placement at Texas Tech University. She’s one of my dearest colleagues to this day and I am forever grateful for her guidance within the field of academia and scholarship. UH Hilo prepared me for my MED-PhD, but UH Hilo most importantly gave me leadership such as Susan that will carry over, and I am so grateful for that!

How did your program prepare you for the workplace?
It prepared me to help a wide spectrum of students in a large capacity in many different ways. To be able not only to bring out their academic strengths, but their individual passions as well.

What are you currently pursuing, both in your career and community?
I am currently working at Texas Tech University on my Graduate Degree in Deaf/Blind Studies in Special Education. I also work at the Academic Library on campus helping students navigate through their academic experience at Texas Tech. In the community, I love to dedicate my time to ensuring that students coming into college are as prepared as possible in receiving the services that they may need after being on IEPs due to visual impairments. Making sure that resources are available to not only the students, but the families as well, in order to help them make that transition to college is something that I love to assist with. Making sure that we can and do offer materials equipped for the visually impaired is something I take pride in making a priority. 

What are the most important lessons that you’ve learned in life?
I think the most important lesson that I’ve learned is that the foundation of good knowledge is the acknowledgement that one must never stop learning. It is through open reception that we receive the most. 

For future UH Hilo students, is there any wisdom that you would like to pass on? 
Submerge yourself deeply into the culture around you, whether it is already your own or something completely new. Hawai‘i has so much to offer and the lessons that the Island will teach you will be ones that you will carry with you the rest of your life.

How does UH Hilo connect learning, life, and Aloha? 
I feel that Aloha is the root of learning and life itself at UH Hilo. When this is the case, I feel that students become more receptive to what is being offered, and in turn become more passionate about their interests.

What does your future hold? What are your goals and dreams?
My goals and aspirations for the future are to make higher education as accessible as possible for students with disabilities and their families. It is my strongest belief that higher education is something that should be experienced by all without boundaries or limitations. Just because a student may be lacking in sight or hearing does not mean they can lack opportunity within the classroom or college experience. My dedication and devotion is to ensure that higher institutions of learning are as prepared as possible to help not only students, but educators as well find purpose and passion in all they do.     

Ekaterina Rose

Ekaterina Rose is a UH Hilo College of Business and Economics student from Kahuku High School on the island of O‘ahu. Ekaterina shares why she choose to attend college in Hawai‘i, her advice for future students, and what “Connecting Learning, Life and Aloha” means to her, in this special edition of the “My Journey” Vulcan V.I.B.E. series.

Video by: David Zachary Ramos

Gemmy Alegre

Student pharmacist Gemmy Alegre is a James Campbell High School graduate from the island of O‘ahu. Gemmy shares her mana‘o on UH Hilo and the College of Pharmacy, what she tries to mālama, and her dreams for the future, in this special edition of the “My Journey” Vulcan V.I.B.E. series.

Apply for the Office of Admissions “My Journey” Scholarship and tell us what you mālama: The deadline to submit your application is March 1st!

Video by: David Zachary Ramos

Maikani Andres

Marine science major Maikani Andres from Palau talks about a typical day on campus, her passion for the ocean, and the various hands-on research opportunities available at #UHHilo.

Video filming by: Wolphgang Wolphagen
Video editing by: David Zachary Ramos

Amy Odaira

Amy Odaira's photo

My name is Amy Odaira. I’m a double major in Biology, B.S. and Japanese Studies, B.A. I was originally born and raised in Thailand till the age of 11, then moved to Hawai‘i with my family.

What’s your passion?
I have a lot of interests that comes and goes. What I consider my “passion” would be an interest or hobby that have stayed with me for as long as I can remember. Broadly speaking, my passion is in the field of arts, crafts, and any making of creative content. In my spare time I do a bit of drawing, photography, DIY crafting, music, etc. I also love seeing people showcase their art online. Perhaps that explains why I have a mild addiction of watching YouTube videos.

How would you describe your personal journey in life?
I don’t really see myself as having a clear path or journey in life. The future is always uncertain, and for that I hold my goals and aspirations loosely. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in having goals or working hard. I work under a deep awareness that there are uncontrollable variables in life that can change the course of my journey. Right now, my sight is set on helping my community as an aspiring physician. The journey is long and there may be detours, but I hope with all my heart that is what I get to do in the future.

What does your future hold?
Again, my future is uncertain, but my goal helps set me on a path to move toward. I’m an aspiring physician so after I graduate, I hope to eventually continue on to medical school after my gap years. What I do during those gap years is still up in the air, but ideally, I hope to spend that time interacting and serving the community I live in.

Why did you choose to attend UH Hilo?
I had a simple reason to why I chose to attend UH Hilo. I had considered going to the mainland for college however, I had a responsibility within my home in Hilo and a financial constrain that would make it hard to move away. UH Hilo is a reputable university, and it offered the programs I was interested in pursuing.

For future UH Hilo students, is there any wisdom you would like to pass on? What would you want them to know?
Thinking from the perspective of a science student, when I first started off as a freshman, I didn’t realize how large the number of opportunities there are for students to get involve with a professor’s research. As a science student, no matter what field you may be in, it’s very important to gain some sort of field research or lab training in preparation for entering the working world. I’d highly recommend building up connections with your professors, no matter what field of study you go into. There are so many resources, especially for those of disadvantaged backgrounds like me. Take advantage of the opportunities while you still have them. As a graduating senior, I can say that opportunities presented to you as a university student will not come by as frequently once you’re out of school.

What campus clubs or activities are you involved in?
I was and am currently involved in the pre-med club on campus called American Medical Students Association or AMSA (formerly known as Aspiring Doctors of Hilo). Through this club I was able to try my hands at a leadership role in the 2018 Relay for Life event. I also learned a lot from guest speakers who were often researchers or physicians from various fields. For a short while, I was also involved in Circle K, which is a community service club. This year, I joined the Board of Media Broadcasting CSO on campus which oversees a portion of student fees paid every semester. It’s been a learning experience carrying a heavier responsibility as a student leader overseeing funds and programs for students on campus.

What would be your personal motto?
I try my best to live by the words “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” from James 4:14 (ESV). Like I mentioned previously, there are many uncertainties in life. Personally, I like to have control and a set plan for what my life would look like in the upcoming years. But things don’t always go my way; the past years have been a strong testament to that. The motto helps remind me of the impermanence that exists everywhere, to chill out a bit, to be more flexible and accepting of change.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
I’ve been blessed to meet and know many great mentors, but my mother is my biggest influence in my life. She’s taught me many simple life skills, like gardening and cooking, and important life skills, like respect, manners, and relationship-building. She’s devoted many years of her life caring for young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. Although she herself never got a proper education till she passed the age of 22, she accomplished so much more than I had when I was 22 years old. Her awesomeness simply cannot be encapsulated in a paragraph. I have immense respect for her as a mother, a mentor, and a friend.

Flashback to when you were 10. What did you want to be when you grow up?
I wanted to be many things when I was younger, but my imagination was limited to what I was exposed to. I wanted to be a teacher, a café owner, an artist, a storyteller, a camerawoman, a singer, a fashion designer, and many more. My career aspiration was always changing but funny enough, nurses or doctors were at the bottom of my list, because as a child I did not enjoy going to the hospital at all. It’s ironic now that I’m studying hard to get into the medical field.

Jasmine Mahinapolū Koko-Casey

Koko Casey's photo

ʻAuhea ʻoukou e nā hoa makamaka ma kēia huakaʻi e ʻimi ʻia nei ke ao o ka naʻau! Eia mai au ʻo Jasmine Mahinapolū Koko-Casey, kapa mau ʻia naʻe ʻo Koko. No ka ʻāina e mehana ai ka ʻili i ka pā ikaika mai o ka lā, no Kīhei nō au, no ka mokupuni ʻoi mau ʻo ʻIhikapalaumāewa hoʻi. I kēia manawa ʻānō, he haumāna mulipuka wau ma lalo o ka papahana hoʻomākaukau kumu ʻo Kahuawaiola ma lalo o Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani. I kēlā makahiki aku nei, ua puka wau me kaʻu mau kēkelē laepua ma ka Haʻawina Hawaiʻi (kālele ʻōlelo) a me ke Kālaiʻōlelo (kālele pilinaʻōlelo). He kumu ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi pū wau ma lalo o Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani no kekahi papa e komo ai nā haumāna o Ke Kula ʻo Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu no ka ʻai pālua. 

Aloha nui kākou! My name is Jasmine Mahinapolū Koko-Casey, but I usually just go by Koko. I am from Kīhei, ʻIhikapalaumāewa (Maui). I am currently a graduate student in the indigenous teacher education program, Kahuawaiola, under Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani (KHʻUOK). Last year, I graduated with my bachelor degrees in Hawaiian Studies with a language emphasis and Linguistics with a structure/grammar emphasis. I am also a Hawaiian language lecturer under KHʻUOK that teaches students from Ke Kula ʻo Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu under the dual credit program.

What’s your passion? 

ʻO ka hoʻonaʻauao ʻana kuʻu hana aloha. Pōmaikaʻi hoʻi wau i ka hiki iaʻu ke ʻōlelo i ka ʻōlelo a koʻu poʻe kūpuna, ka ʻōlelo kupa nō hoʻi o neia ʻāina. ʻIke naʻe wau, i loko nō o koʻu aloha nui i ka ʻōlelo makuahine, he kuleana nō ia oʻu. 

Teaching is my passion. I’m so grateful that I am able to speak the language of my ancestors, the native language of this land. Even though I love teaching through my native tongue, I also realize that it is not just a passion, but a responsibility. 

How would you describe your personal journey in life? 

Ua pōmaikaʻi wau i ka ʻohana aloha nui. He ʻohana i kākoʻo a kōkua mai ma nā ʻano a pau. ʻO ka ʻoiaʻiʻo, ʻaʻole wau i hānai ʻia ma ka nohona Hawaiʻi; ʻaʻohe oʻu ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, ʻaʻohe oʻu nohona Hawaiʻi, ʻaʻohe oʻu kuanaʻike Hawaiʻi. Ua pau ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi ʻana ma koʻu ʻohana ma mua o koʻu hānau ʻia ʻana. Ma ka wā i hoʻomaka ai koʻu komo ʻana ma nā papa haʻawina Hawaiʻi ma ke kula waena, ma laila i ulu mai ai koʻu ʻiʻini nui e ʻimi ai i ka ʻike Hawaiʻi. A i kēia manawa, eia mai au ke hoʻohana maoli nei i ka ʻike i paʻa iaʻu ma ke aʻo ʻana i nā hanauna hou. No koʻu puka kula ʻana ma Mei, ua noi wau i kaʻu kumu ma ke kula waena e hana i koʻu lei i mea e ʻike ʻia ai kekahi ʻano o ka hoʻi ʻana aku i ka piko. 

I was truly privileged with a loving family, a family that supported and encouraged me in all ways possible. To be honest, I wasn’t raised speaking Hawaiian, I wasn’t raised in a traditional Hawaiian lifestyle, I wasn’t raised with a Hawaiian perspective. The language was lost in my family far before I was born. When I started taking Hawaiian studies classes in middle school, that’s where my love for Hawaiian knowledge came to be. And now, here I am, truly using my knowledge to educate the younger generations. For my graduation in May, I have asked my teacher from middle school to make my lei to really make this experience come full circle.

What does your future hold? 

Manaʻolana wau, he kumu wau no ke koena aku o ke ola. E hoʻohana kūpono ʻia ka ʻike i paʻa iaʻu no ka hoʻonaʻauao kūpono ʻana aku i nā ʻōpio. Makemake i paʻa maikaʻi ko lākou kahua i hiki iā lākou ke komo pū i ke kuleana ʻo ka mālama ʻana i ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi a pēlā pū i ka hoʻoili ʻike ma luna o nā hanauna e hiki mai ana. 

I hope that I am a teacher for the rest of my life. I want my knowledge to be well applied in educating the youth. I want them to have a strong and solid foundation so that they will later be able to fulfill their responsibility of perpetuating the Hawaiian language and are also able to share their knowledge with the upcoming generations.

Why did you choose your major? 

No ka Haʻawina Hawaiʻi, ua ʻike ʻē wau, ʻo ia ana kaʻu mēkia. Ua hoʻoholo ʻia iaʻu ma ke kula kiʻekiʻe. ʻAʻole naʻe wau i lilo he haumāna ma ka mēkia Kālaiʻōlelo a i koʻu makahiki ʻelua ma ke kulanui. Ma koʻu makahiki mua, ua paipai ʻia au e komo ma ka papa LING 102 a ua hoihoi loa! Ma laila wau i ʻike ai i nā ʻano ʻaoʻao like ʻole o ka ʻōlelo. Ma muli o ia hoihoi i komo kūhele ai wau ma ke ʻano he haumāna Kālaiʻōlelo.

For Hawaiian studies, I already knew that was going to be my major. That is something that I decided in high school. However, I did not become a Linguistics major until my second year. In my first year, I was encouraged to enroll in the LING 102 class and it was so interesting! It was there that I learned about all the different aspects of language. And because I was so interested, I decided to enroll as an official Linguistics major as well. 

Why do you think it’s important to study your major? 

Ua kokoke halapohe ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. A inā nō i pau, me ia nō ka lāhui Hawaiʻi. “ʻO ka ʻōlelo ke kaʻā o ka mauli.” ʻAʻole ka ʻōlelo wale nō ʻo kai aʻo ʻia ke aʻo i ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, ma lalia pū ka moʻomeheu me ke kuanaʻike Hawaiʻi. He koʻikoʻi hoʻi ke komo ma ka Haʻawina Hawaiʻi ia me ke Kālaiʻōlelo i mea e hiki ai ke maopopo iā kākou ke ʻano o ka poʻe ma mua o kākou a pēlā e hōʻoia ai i ka ʻane halapohe hou o kā kākou ʻōlelo aloha. 

The Hawaiian language was nearly extinct. And if it had indeed died, along with it would have been the Hawaiian race. “Language is the fiber that binds us to our cultural identity.” The language is not the only thing you learn when you learn the Hawaiian language, it is there you will also learn the Hawaiian culture and perspective. It is so important to study Hawaiian language and linguistics so that we are able to understand the ways of those before us and through this, we can ensure that our beloved language never becomes endangered again. 

What makes the program unique?

Ma ka papahana ʻo Kahuawaiola e hoʻomākaukau ʻia ai nā kumu ma ke kuanaʻike Hawaiʻi. Ma nā kula kaiapuni a kaiaʻōlelo paha, aʻo ʻia nō nā maʻiʻo maʻamau, ʻo ka makemakika, ka ʻepekema, ka mākau ʻōlelo Pelekānia, ka mōʻaukala, a pēlā wale aku. ʻO ka hana nui naʻe ma kēia papahana, ʻo ia ka hoʻomākaukau ʻana iā mākou no ke aʻo ma ka ʻimi ʻana i ka pili o ka maʻiʻo i kā mākou poʻe haumāna Hawaiʻi. Aʻo ʻia mākou ke ala e hōʻike mau ai i ka haumāna i kona pilina i nā mea āna e aʻo nei ma kona ʻano he kanaka Hawaiʻi. 

In the Kahuawaiola program, teachers are prepared from a Hawaiian perspective. In immersion schools, the basic subjects are taught: math, science, English, history, etc. But the biggest thing about this program is that we are prepared to teach these subjects while also finding the connection of the content to our students. We are taught how to constantly ensure them that what they are learning is connected to them as a Native Hawaiian. 

What would be your personal motto? 

I ʻolāʻolā nō ka huewai i ka piha ʻole. The water gourd gargles when not filled full.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?

He ʻili kuapo ʻeleʻele kēkelē ʻehā koʻu ma ka taekwondo. 

I am a fourth degree black belt in taekwondo. 

If you could be anywhere other than here, where would you be? 

Inā i hiki ke hele wale e like me koʻu makemake, e hoʻi aku nō wau i koʻu mokupuni ʻo Maui e launa ai me koʻu makuahine a me koʻu pōkiʻi. Ma muli o ka maʻi ahulau, kokoke ka piha o hoʻokahi makahiki i koʻu hoʻi ʻole ʻana i laila. 

If I could be anywhere else right now, I would go home to Maui to see my mom and little brother. Due to the pandemic, I have been unable to go home for almost a year now.