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.     

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: https://hilo.hawaii.edu/journey/. 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