Olatunji Gbadebo

Olatunji Gbadebo

What’s your passion?
To make a difference in someone’s life even it may seem insignificant to the world.

How would you describe your personal journey in life?
Well traveled, cultured and respectful to all.

What does your future hold?
A chance to make an impact on the world we live in.

What makes the program unique?
The professors really go out of their way to make it feel like a family and the student body is very close and supportive.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about coming to UH Hilo?
The campus is like a big family and even though you may have to move away from home everyone is very supportive of you on your educational journey.

What campus clubs or activities are you involved in?
American Pharmacist Association Academy of Student Pharmacists, Hawai‘i Student Society of Health Systems Pharmacy and Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, National Pharmacists Association, Kappa Psi Epsilon Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Annual Health Fair, DKICP Student Ambassador.

What are your dreams?
To become a Pharmacist. 

What are some causes that you care about?
Civil rights, sustainability projects, saving animals from cruelty.  

Name a few of your daily habits.
Checking my calendar, walking my dog, exercising, meditating, journaling. 

Mekaila Pasco

Mekaila Pasco

Aloha Kākou! ʻO Mekaila koʻu inoa. Welcome! My name is Mekaila Pasco, but most of my friends just call me Kaila. I was born and raised here on the Big Island of Hawai‘i in the beautiful town of North Kohala. I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. I am also hoping to progress further in my field of interest to obtain a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.

What’s your passion?

My greatest passion in life is learning how to understand people. I enjoy meeting new people and helping others when I have the opportunity. I often find myself coaching, tutoring, counseling, or just listening to others because knowing people fascinates me. I like knowing how people filter and channel their emotions, why people do certain things, and what motivates them to do wrong or right. My biggest goal in life is to become a school counselor with the intention of guiding and supporting students in every way possible.

How would you describe your personal journey in life?

If I could summarize my entire journey through life with one word, I would use the word “thriving” because that’s all I ever try to do. I enjoy trying new things, being a part of different communities, and networking with different people. All my life I have prospered during the best times, but during the hardest times is when I truly began to thrive. I learned how to open up to the world and how to take the good with the bad as you should with everything you encounter. Although I am proud and humbled by my past experiences, I also know that I still have an entire life ahead of me and I can’t wait to live it.

What does your future hold?

I truly believe that my future holds everything I’ve ever wanted. When I close my eyes and imagine where I will be 5 or 10 years from now, I still see the same enthusiastic, loving, and vibrant person that I see now. I imagine that I’m slowly working my way through Graduate school, pursuing all of my wildest dreams. I see myself stressing over exams and maturing to a higher level, but I also see my relationships getting stronger and my education increasing. The future is never secured, so I always remind myself to live in the moment.

What campus clubs or activities are you involved in?

I am currently an Event Planner on the Student Activities Council (SAC). I applied for this position last year because I did Student Council in high school and absolutely loved it. I often see myself as a leader, but I decided to not take on a leadership position because I wanted to focus more on my school work. Right now, SAC is mostly an extracurricular activity and creative outlet for me than it is a job. The work can be demanding, but you learn so many skills from this program and you get to meet so many wonderful students.

For future UH Hilo students, is there any wisdom you would like to pass on? What would you want them to know?

If I met someone who was debating whether or not they should attend UH Hilo, I would immediately jump up and tell them every single thing there is to love about this university. However, I would be honest when it comes to defining my experience as a college student in general. The piece of advice or wisdom that I would pass on is to never procrastinate and if you ever need assistance, to always ask for it because the staff and faculty will help you. I would want others to know that UH Hilo cultivates student learning in more ways than one. The staff and faculty at UH Hilo do everything they can to encourage their students in all aspects whether it’s cultural, social, recreational, or educational.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life or at UH Hilo?

There are many important lessons I’ve learned from UH Hilo, being a college student, being a first generation college student, and from life in general. The first being that college really does push you to mature and progress as an adult because your educational journey through college will solely depend on your love for learning and why you get out of bed every morning. The second lesson I learned very harshly is that you also have to learn how to take care of yourself, mentally and physically. I got so caught up in my courses and other responsibilities that sometimes I forgot to eat or take breaks, which isn’t how it should be. The biggest lesson I had to learn the hard way was to take care of myself and to learn that it’s ok to say no to extra work sometimes in order to give yourself a well-deserved break.

What would be your personal motto?

My motto for everything I do in life is “when you feel like giving up, remember why you started.” This quote is literally a life saver and comes in real handy when you are close to giving up. Sometimes it was school, family, friendships, work, or even sports that got in the way of me being happy. Managing all of these things could be the most difficult and stressful part of adolescence, but having a safe haven to turn to is always the best outcome. I also like to tell myself that “everything happens for a reason” because I truly believe that it does.

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

I always wanted to go to New Zealand because of how much fun things they have to offer. I was trying to Study Abroad at the beginning of this year, but after the pandemic hit I knew I couldn’t follow through with my plans. However, if given the chance I would definitely try to find a way to get there whether it be through Study Abroad or a family trip. I always wanted to try the Nevis bungy jump, the Waitomo glowworm caves, and the ZORB Rotorua hamster balls course. Not to mention the beautiful beaches and waterfalls that I know I would absolutely fall in love with.

What are you happiest doing?

I am happiest when I am around other people, whether it be strangers, family, friends, or even animals. I enjoy riding horses, playing volleyball, and adventuring with my friends. When I ride a horse, I feel free and as if the entire weight of the world is lifted off my shoulders. When I’m playing volleyball, I get lost in the moment and satisfy my competitive genes. I also love to adventure with my friends because we’re always finding new, cool places to lounge around or explore.

Ricky Anderson

Meet Jonathan (Ricky) Anderson, a student with a business administration major and a focus in marketing. Listen as he shares his journey of being a student at UH Hilo through his involvement on campus.

Video editing by: Sycamore Mitchell and Cinestie Olson.

Darienne Kealoha

Darienne Kealoha

Marine Science major transforms her life’s journey at UH Hilo

With a deep breath, the nerves in her voice started reverberating throughout the room, changing from quaking to quiet.

Darienne Kealoha recalls the moment she found her confidence – her hilinaʻi, during an ‘oli chant test at Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani. It was a turning point for her, a moment that defines her even now, as a senior student in Marine Science, minoring in Communications, Hawaiian Studies, and History.

When she finished her ‘oli, there was complete silence. Instructor Malu Dudoit said, “That was amazing. Your voice is strong, you filled the whole room.”

Kealoha wasn’t always as confident as she is now. The eldest of four in a single-parent household, she struggled with depression in her high school sophomore year, affecting both her academic and personal life.

Although she came from a large family of Hawaiian ancestry, and attended Kamehameha Schools in Kapālama, she never felt truly connected to the ʻāina and her native culture. College wasn’t part of the story she had written for herself, and it was only as part of a graduation requirement and the behest of her family, that she applied to UH Hilo at all.

Attending UH Hilo transformed her perspective on life. A proud participant of the Summer 2019 Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES), Kealoha partnered with Kelsea Hosoda of the educational consulting business ‘Ike Papalua, helping to produce animated educational videos on Instagram and YouTube that talked about genetic modification.

Being involved with the PIPES internship program taught her about research, and how important it is to be a part of the community, talking to the people who live in the area, and discovering things you never would otherwise.

Kealoha always had a creative interest in video. Her focus is on producing educational videos on marine science incorporating ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i for immersive learning in charter schools. In years past, she’s been involved as editor at Vulcan Video Productions (VVP) on campus, and this past year, she was general manager for VVP.

Her eventual goal is to become an Education Coordinator specializing in indigenized educational activities that kids can do at home. “By combining the necessity of working with my community and my passion for education through video media, I want to serve the Hawaiian community in this way,” says Kealoha.

UH Hilo helped Kealoha connect her identity to her ancestral roots. “Hilo has a Hawaiian mentality, it’s not about blood, but about home, and a way of life,” she says. At one point while growing up on O‘ahu, all she knew of Hawaiian culture was listening to Hawaiian music. Living in Hilo, she came to understand how important ʻāina and community are.

Kealoha’s journey hasn’t always been easy, even now. She relies on the support of her family and friends, and her black cat Mahina, who resides with her at the dorms. But she reminds herself of one thing and shares this advice with others: “Don’t be scared of failing – try to be as involved as possible. Everyone is dealing with something or is just as scared. Once you get over that fear, the entire world opens up for you.”

Holly Trowbridge

English student shares what inspires her most about UH Hilo

I applied to UH Hilo for multiple reasons. I wanted an avenue to independence, and I wanted to be far away enough from home not to have my parents breathing down my neck, but close enough to home that I could travel back to ‘Oahu on a moment’s notice if that was ever needed. 

I’m so glad I got in, because as it happens, my family actually relocated to Oak Park, Illinois, and I was ready to attend UH Hilo! This meant that travelling quickly would no longer be an option, but it also meant that I would have the quintessential independent college experience. 

I learned so much more about myself, and my values by attending this university. I got very connected with the performing arts department, and I even changed my major from Pre-Nursing to English! I wrote for Ke Kalahea as a Staff Writer, and I got really involved with tons of different clubs.

UH Hilo taught me how to be an independent, more stylized me! I’ve grown in countless ways, and I’ve met so many amazing people along this journey. The community took me in, valued me, like a precious little stone — a red diamond, and loved me into a new and altered person. I was presented with a truly valuable experience, and for that I will be forever grateful. Now I am on a road to who knows where, as I graduate and explore the mainland. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next! Stay cool, stay fresh, my UHH ‘Ohana! 

Jacinda Angelsberg

Jacinda Angelsberg

Through a Unique Pair of Eyes: My Experience with High Functioning Autism

By: Jacinda Angelsberg

Jacinda on a surfboardImagine what it would feel like to live in a world that seems “alien” where communication is a foreign language. This is what individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) like myself experience on a daily basis as we ponder about the complexities of social interactions. From my experience with ASD and depression, I have developed immense gratitude for having the opportunity to attend psychology courses taught by wonderful professors at UH Hilo that have inspired me to become an advocate for the voiceless. Also, my mother’s positivity had contributed to me overcoming adversity by transforming some of my deficits into linguistic strengths. Finding my talent of perceiving the world with a uniquely compassionate pair of eyes has enabled me to embrace and find beauty in neurodiversity. Thus, I hope that my life-story will inspire you to focus on what you “can do” instead of what you “can’t do.” Do not speak badly to your mind. This is because the spiritual warrior within your soul can become lessened by these degrading words. For flowers of self-love to grow, you must clear out your mind’s weeds of negativity. Loving yourself is not about fixing or finding out what is “wrong” with you; it is about finding out what is “right” with you.

Before I was born, my mother dreamt of a little girl standing in front of her bookshelf filled with novels of all kinds. Upon being conceived as a premature infant who weighed merely 4.5 pounds, I screamed at the top of my lungs from the over-stimulating brightness of the hospital’s fluorescent lights and the umbilical cord being tightly wrapped around my feet. After loudly awaking the other newborns in the intensive care unit, the uncomfortable sensation of being held in the frustrated nurse’s arms as she briskly returned me back to my mother made me cry hysterically. Deep down inside, she sensed that something was “off.” However, rather than having the initial reaction of rejecting her baby simply because of her atypicality, she thought to herself, “I know that she is different. And, I will always love her for who she is.”

Ever since I came out of the womb, my mother has shown me undying patience, empathy, and nurturing. Shortly after I turned two, her premonition for my fascination with reading came true. She intuitively knew that it would aid in my cognitive development and fuel my penchant for writing. Tenaciously working long graveyard-shifts as an ultrasound technologist and a single-mother, she never forgot to read me books when she returned home. This would soothe my soul from all the sensory difficulties that I experienced each day. Reading to me made the chaotic, ear-splitting sounds of the outside environment, and the unbearable texture of my clothes that felt like knives penetrating my skin temporarily fade away.

Fast-forwarding to high school, I did not perform well on standardized tests due to my delayed processing and comprehension-challenges. Yet, this did not bring me down since my encouraging, wise Japanese teacher told me that I did not have a “standardized mind.” With great appreciation for my mother inspiring me to never give up, I read passages multiple times until I understood them, and I “rewired” my brain. This has ultimately led to me becoming a true bibliophile at heart and a poet. Now, my room is stacked with a vast array of psychology, shamanic, and botanical books.

At times, I may be wordless. My hands speak louder than my mouth, but I am not heard less. Through writing, I have found my voice. As you can see, we all have a profound purpose here on Earth: to find our gift and to give it away. Every human being possesses a remarkable talent. Therefore, we must search for it within ourselves since the soul has the answer.

Also, I have had significantly impaired fine-motor coordination from a young age. Still to this day, it is rather difficult for me to unlock doors with keys, use a knife and a fork at the same time while cutting food, unbuttoning clothing with finesse, opening the plastic grocery-store bags for produce, using a flat-iron, and many other daily activities that too many of us take for granted. Moving the part that puts a car’s transmission into “park” or “drive,” hyperfocusing on external distractions, and adjusting my seat with the lever are some challenges that impede me from driving. I was also unskilled in team-sports due to the complexity of understanding the rules and my lack of coordination. However, I became very skillful in mixed martial arts with practice. Starting boxing from an early age and learning balancing poses by practicing forms such as “statue of the crane” in karate has improved my balance and movement. Even though I cannot ride a bike, I am good at stand-up-paddle-boarding, long-boarding, and yoga. As I walk to the beat of my own drum, l embrace my clumsiness!

Jacinda on a roadIn music class, I was unable to use multiple fingers at once to play the piano. Also, I could not accomplish the basic hand-motions of beating taiko drums while thinking of the music notes at the same time. I cannot sense traditional tempo or orchestral rhythm. As time progressed, I realized that I have a great ear for the music of Mother Earth. I find immense solace in the sound of the trees swaying in the breeze, croaking coqui frogs, and identifying the different chirps of Hawaiian birds hidden in the foliage as I venture in the forest. The heartbeat of Nature is a sacred sound that I can hear.

As an artsy, right-brained thinker, I possess very few logical skills due to my neurodevelopmental disorder. For example, I am often reminded to not go hiking in dangerous weather conditions or to not wear sandals on stormy days. Additionally, I have an impaired short-term and working memory that results in me doing steps of daily tasks in an out-of-order-sequence such as applying soap before the water when washing my hands or remembering to turn on the patio-light before I open the patio-door at night, not afterwards.

Outside of these closed doors, the struggles behind my high functioning autism are nearly invisible. Thus, I hope to someday make mental health awareness visible.

Jacinda stands by a fenceDespite being very amiable and sweet, I somewhat have difficulty with getting along well with just about anyone. The origin of this challenge dwells in not knowing how to maintain long-lasting friendships with peers of my age and the stigma that I have endured. After being discriminately referred to as “stupid,” “retarded,” “a shame,” “a burden,” “loner,” and an “outcast” from passersby, I withdrew. Taking each degrading word too close to my heart, I became a solitary hermit and retreated into my inner-utopia.

Once I obtained the courage to stand up for myself, I was surrounded by positive influences. I learned that having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma is a shame. Coping with the afflictions of autism is a burden, but I am not a burden. It is only a burden to those who are not yet enlightened. I send them my conscious-raising blessings. Now, I have no fear of being rejected and aspire to educate others about the importance of right speech – to value all sentient beings as who they are, not what they are.

Even though I feel introverted when it comes to day-to-day conversations and interpreting indirect social cues, I am an empath within. Despite this polarity, I radiate kindness towards every individual in need of help who comes my way. It is my calling to give people who are suffering words of guidance. Every morning, I motivate myself to go on a quest to make someone else’s day better, whether it be mysteriously placing food and a warm blanket beside a sleeping man without a home, taking the time to keenly listen to another’s feelings, or giving a sad person a smile.

Throughout the early years of my life, I felt as if I did not belong to the planet that I inherited. Yet, my mother’s instillment of self-esteem and loving words of encouragement made me realize that this was untrue over time. Like other individuals on the spectrum, I learned that I  was not meant to fit in this world because I was born to help create a new one – a world of compassion and tolerance. In turn, I have gained immense sympathy and unconditional positive regard for others with my condition, as well as, every suffering person who walks the Earth. Although certain areas in my brain over-compensated for the underdeveloped aspects that have been impaired from my high functioning autism, I have learned to stand strong in the face of stigma and to see the “able” instead of the “label” as I continue on my endless journey of progress. This has enabled me to accept being “differently wired” and to humbly find the profound “ability” in “disability.”

Please peruse my poem that can teach you to embrace being different:

Different Is Beautiful

Conformity is a societal deformity
In sameness lies the imperfection
Of blindly following the majority
Uniqueness is indeed true perfection

Beautiful is the gothic one
Who visits a burial ground
To have a picnic with none
But a spirit’s silent sound

Beautiful is the unconventional lady
Who wears heavenly white at funerals
Instead of conventionally gloomy dresses as shady
Gray as a grave’s engraved numerals

Beautiful is the lonesome girl
Who sits all alone
With individuality shining like a pearl
Proud to never be another clone.

Beautiful is the outcast
Who resembles a warrior fearless
Of being cast out
And fiercely peerless

Beautiful is the clairvoyant-
Artist who paints God’s visions
Wearing a red beret so flamboyant
As she foretells thy future decisions

Beautiful is the woman who ceases to be labeled
Remaining undefined
By those solely viewing her as disabled
For she has a remarkable mind unconfined

Beautiful is the witchy crone
Like her forgotten spell cast away
To the heavens where virtuous magic shone
Brightly over the world’s scorn of a misunderstood castaway

To be eccentric
Is to be free
Amongst concentric
Crowds lacking glee

Resist to exist in superficiality
Like a bold nail persisting
To never let the herd-mentality
Smash it with a hammer insisting
That it should surrender to being pounded
Painfully into the wood of compliance
For it shall stick out unbounded
To normalcy and stand tall in defiance

Jasmine Joao

Jasmine Joao

Transfer student majoring in Japanese and  minoring in History, shares why coming “home” to UH Hilo was one of the best decisions she ever made

I’m Japanese major with a minor in history. I graduate in the Spring 2021.

High School:
I attended Henry Perrine Baldwin High school on Maui.

Hometown City/State:
Well, I was born on Molokai and lived there for the first 5-ish years of my life before moving to Maui.

What would be your personal motto?
I realize this is a bad foot to start on but probably something along the lines of, “Expect the worst and be surprised by better.” Although contemplative nihilist, E.M. Cioran says it better than I ever could, saying, “Having always lived in the fear of being surprised by the worst, I have tried in every circumstance to get a head start, flinging myself into misfortune long before it occurred,” which I realize is rather pessimistic but it is honest. I commend all optimists, it is far easier to believe in nothing than to hold out the vague and foggy hope of something. When I grow up, I’d very much like to be an optimist, is that so much to hope for?

How do you think your friends and family would describe you?
I think my friends would say happy and organized and my family would tell me book-smart and chaotic. I’ll neither confirm or deny these assumed assessments. To do so would either be too congratulatory and pretentious or express a certain degree of self-loathing – both of which seem problematic. I’ll simply say that according to the first three results of a random adjective generator I am, “parched,” “hesitant,” and “aquamarine.” Which, all things considered, is fair. A round of applause for the random adjective generator. *Insert muted clapping*

What are your favorite hobbies, ways to spend your weekend?
Hobbies – who has the time nowadays? The more I think about this question and what my realistic answer would be, the more I realize how much time I spend in my own company. I enjoy reading non-fiction historical books, most certainly on the failings of the horrible 17th President of the United States Andrew Johnson, and a variety of other more topical novels. I’ve had an off and on affection for crocheting – all of my projects have some form of fault in them and yet crocheting has become a rather calming past-time lately. Continually, I am inclined to express an added inclination for baking but ask any of my friends and you’ll discover that while I may enjoy the idea, the product often doesn’t live up to my excitement. All I want to know how to bake is bread and yet I can hardly bake boxed brownies. It’s a work in progress.

What is a typical day like for you?
I was about to say that it depends on the day but I realized that the things in my day primarily remain the same but the order can vary. To start, I wake up around 6:30am, and then do some combination of tuning into classes, work meetings, and/ or club zoom meetings, starting in on one homework or the other, reading, answering an onslaught of emails, and drinking copious amounts of tea. In the evenings, I am delighted to speak with some combination of friends or family over the phone. I’m afraid it doesn’t get much more exciting than that, no grand schemes or bank robberies. Outside my window, the birds chirp, a couple down the street continues to fight, an old man sits at the corner of the block in the mid-afternoon, and children laugh as they ride their bikes in the street. It’s a quiet sort of contentment.

What are you happiest doing?
I’m happiest talking to people. I adore good conversation and company. There’s always so much to say and so much to discover about everyone. It gives me the greatest pleasure in meeting anyone who shares in the desire to talk about anything and everything all at once. There’s a great deal of good in silence as well, but it’s the joy of muddled understanding and excited exclamations or even the warmth of simply hearing about someone’s day.

How has your life been different than what you imagined?
Oh boy. At 5, I was sure I would become a princess-fashion-designer-author who wrote about fairies. At 10, however, I embraced practicality and decided on electrical engineering. After one book on how light bulbs work, I quickly gave that up. After reading a conspiracy book about the Big Bang at 11, I was sure that I would become an astrophysicist and solve the mysteries of the universe. I packed that dream up at 12 when I had the dramatic realization that my destiny was not in science, but law. I would practice law and live in a secluded cottage in the woods with two dogs. People, goodness, who needed to see them. I would work mainly remotely or commute in when needed. That dream of being a lawyer lasted all the way through high school and my first year of college. I prepped for exams, created spreadsheets for law schools, and studied LSAT flashcards. Then, as the pattern goes, I completely turned my plans on their non-existent heads. I didn’t want to be a lawyer and live oceans away from everyone that I knew and loved. I’m not completely sure what will come of my life but I can say for sure that I’m not going to be a princess-fashion-designer-author, electrical engineer, or astrophysicist. 🙂

How would you like to be remembered?
As a human? Is this to mean ‘remembered’ as if I died? Because if that’s the case, I’d like to not be remembered at all, at least not by a great many people. Many expectations and judgement comes along with being remembered. We all live as different versions of ourselves in other peoples’ memories. We aren’t ourselves. We are what they perceive us to be. It’s far too much pressure to hope to be remembered as anything extraordinary. Everyone does the best that they can and I’d hope I was kind to those that did know me. At least kind enough so that I don’t have a Scrooge-like ghost of christmas future moment where I see people that knew me dancing on my grave. That’d be just a tad unfortunate.

Do you have any regrets

What are your dreams?
Most recently I had a dream about being on a floating island made of bubble gum surrounded by a sea made of laundry soap and I had the distinct impression that everything smelled strongly of pineapple. But in all seriousness, I don’t have any strong impressions of what I want out of life besides happiness. I suppose that is the goal, isn’t it? I’d like to spend every Christmas with those I love and adore. I’d like to have a family of my own to bake for along with day trips to libraries and nights of Monopoly. I don’t think I have an exact dream, more a vague inclination that I’d like what everyone wants: to be happy. However, if we are dreaming big here, I’ll take a magic unicorn alongside my happiness.

What does your future hold?
Goodness. I haven’t the faintest idea. I think we like to believe in plans and the future we’d like to have but it all gets washed away. Nothing ever goes perfectly to plan. I can make as many projection graphs and spreadsheets as I’d like but I could still never tell you where I’ll be ten years from now or even two years from now. It’s all frightening and exciting, two emotions which give one the thrill and anxiety in pursuit of the unfathomable.

Why did you choose to attend UH Hilo?
That’s a whirlwind. I originally started college at Pacific University in Oregon back in 2018 right out of high school. It was the only school I applied to, I was sure that I would be happy and successful there. I was sure of it. When I got there, I went to classes, joined clubs, got a job, made friends – all the normal reasonable things one does. But I wasn’t happy. It felt like I should be happy, it was what I wanted, right? That was a question I asked myself. After my first year there, I went home to Maui for summer break. It was only three months, I had told myself. Three months and then I would be on a six-hour flight back to Oregon. Within the first month back, I laughed with my family again over countless games of scrabble, I sat under towering trees and stared at the skyline below with my friends, and I was happy. How could I go back? I transferred to UH Hilo at the end of June 2019, wanting to stay close to home without being at home. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

What are your favorite parts about being a student here at UH Hilo?
It’s hard to pick. Visiting the library and borrowing more books than I can carry. Chatting with friends at random tables and finding corners to study in. Signing up for a position as a General editor on a whim and discovering it’s one of your greatest joys. Late nights spent gluing poster boards together and everyone laughing the next day when the project deadline is extended. There’s a lot of good parts.

What have your experiences been like with students here?
Oh, wonderful. There isn’t much more to say besides wonderful. I have met some of the best people in my life here. There are so many people I know now that I can’t imagine ever not knowing. It’s been truly amazing and I will be forever a better person to have interacted with the other students here.

What campus clubs or activities are you involved in?
I’m currently the Editor-in-Chief of Hohonu, UH Hilo’s academic journal. I started as a General Editor at the end of the last school year. The previous team and Editor-in-Chief laid a wonderful foundation for the academic journal and we wouldn’t be in the position we are this year without all the support and guidance. The Academic journal annually publishes a body of student work as reflective of the current student body as possible. This year, especially with regard to Covid restrictions, much of the format for participating in activities has been limited but I’ve been very fortunate to still have met marvelous individuals to which I will be everly grateful and better for having known.

What is your favorite memory at UH Hilo?
I was sitting outside on one of the tables going down the hall between the library and K-building and there was a test to prepare for. Well, apparently a few of my classmates had the same idea to study along that hall and one by one we sort of all congealed together. Somehow a good half of the class ended up crammed together on two pushed together tables, all with our heads buried in books or flashcards as we muttered under our breaths. Every few minutes there’d be a loud exclamation of defeat from one person or the other and everyone else would stop for a moment to console them with phrases like, “As long as you don’t get less than 50%, you’re doing great,” or “If we all fail, the professor will probably let us retake the test.” I don’t know why I find that memory so endearing. I just do. It’s the thought of all coming together despite not knowing each other well. And the, “oh, I didn’t know you like that, too” moments that are so incredibly extraordinary.

For future UH Hilo students, is there any wisdom you would like to pass on? What would you want them to know?
I would want them to just remember to take care of themselves. College isn’t easy. You try and you try and that becomes exhausting. You deserve to take care of yourself just like you’d take care of anyone else. Call your friends. Call your family. Tell the people in your life how much they mean to you. It’s a long road and it’s harder to do anything alone. Remember that it’s okay to lean on people and be honest about what you need. It’s okay to ask for help, we’re all human and we all struggle. It doesn’t make you any less wonderful to acknowledge your limits and to give yourself some slack. All in all, be kind to others and don’t forget to be kind to yourself.

Jacinda Angelsberg

Jacinda Angelsberg

Jacinda won the 2019 Droste and Yoneko Award for Outstanding Work in Poetry, has been published in Kanilehua numerous times, is currently working on Kanilehua for the 2020-2021 academic year, and is in the process of finalizing her own nonprofit foundation to help the homeless.

My Journey into the Light of Altruism
By: Jacinda Angelsberg

Mending broken hearts, lifting the fallen, and healing the hurting is my obligation. Throughout my life, I nomadically moved in search of a place with a peaceful atmosphere and educational opportunities where I could manifest this heartfelt dream. Navigating through new landscapes opened my eyes to the widespread  issue of homelessness which influenced me to uplift others when they are down. This has allowed me to understand that the precious lives of each human being are blank pages waiting to be written on. Each time I traveled, my passion of compassion unraveled. Once I relocated from my hometown, San Clemente, California, to the Big Island, I knew that Hilo was indeed the place to call “home.” Learning the importance of shedding light on the virtue of embracing the rainbow of cultural diversity at UH Hilo has made my heart overflow with immense gratitude since this experience will someday assist me in helping people from all walks of life.

Despite having high functioning autism, I had to work very hard during the course of my schooling. My ambitious persistence served as a stepping stone for my transition from being in the special education department in elementary school to graduating as a valedictorian at Hilo High School. Once I transformed myself, I strived to transform others. From that point on, I realized that my quest here on Earth is to become a clinical psychologist. In order to pursue my ultimate career goal in addition to being an author, I will complete my B.A. in Psychology at UH Hilo in two years. Thereafter, I aspire to obtain a M.A. in Counseling and a PsyD in Clinical Psychology as I embark on my exciting journey of altruism. This will guide me to my higher purpose of being a moral compass with the mission of inspiring people to heal their psychological wounds as they achieve spiritual wholeness. It is my aspiration to listen to the whispers of a person’s soul and help him or her alleviate unwanted symptoms by using patience and wisdom as the most revitalizing forms of healing.

Humankind’s survival is so dependent on the hospitality of other sentient beings that a vital need for loving-kindness lies at the central core of our existence. Thus, one interesting aspect about myself is that I recently founded the Angelsberg Foundation, a non-profit organization, in order to provide free access to psychiatric services, life-coaching, rehabilitation programs, food, clothing, and other key necessities for homeless individuals who suffer from trauma, substance use disorders, and mental illness. By giving homeless individuals in Los Angeles, Waikiki, and Hilo care packages and taking the time to listen to their life-stories, I found myself by losing myself in the altruistic service of others. I also take their portraits and compose poetry to open humanity’s eyes that these individuals are not invisible. To gain awareness about the epidemic of homelessness, please take a look at my corresponding  photography and peruse my free-verse, “Invisible,” from Stepping Out of the Spiritual Closet:


“Invisible” (Echo Park, Los Angeles)

“Invisible” (Echo Park, Los Angeles)

“The Power of Love” (Hilo, HI)

“The Power of Love” (Hilo, HI)

Can you hear the crying echo
Of the hoary-headed homeless lady
Reverberate across the superficial soulless streets
Of Echo Park? No black and white cars
Imprisoned in un-enlightenment’s dark abyss
Refusing to look down at her frown
From elevated tinted windshields barred
That shield them against the injustice of poverty
Stop to park their mechanical detention cells
And see if she’s dying slowly with her withering body
Crouched lowly on a crosswalk
Where no one takes time to talk
To this woman dressed in cloaked gray garbs
Invisible as a ghost.
A pedestrian in a prison-striped T-shirt
Ignores sadness singing masked out by the phone ringing
The sound of his heart that’s hard
Like the cold cement pavement.
Liberate yourself from the enslavement
Of ignorance by not showing
Blindness to human kindness.
Remove the blindfold from your eyes
And awaken to end suffering.

From this poem, you can see that the homeless have a powerful voice that must be heard. Our utmost responsibility is to not ignore the suffering of others by radiating the compassionate light of divine love through positive vibes. No human being should be left behind. Overall, the instillment of inner-strength within myself led to my goal of cultivating resilience and hope in each wounded person’s spirit who comes my way thus far as a student. Even though there are still countless struggling people in this world, I can start by making a difference, one person at a time.