Networking event held for UH Hilo business students

“Mentoring Your Way to Success” was the last of three events for a pilot mentorship program.  

By Kara Nelson.

On Thursday, April 23, the Office of Applied Learning Experiences (ALEX) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hosted a networking event, the last of three events for the pilot ALEX Mentorship Program. This semester the program was exclusively for students enrolled in the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics (CoBE). The pilot program matched 12 student mentees with individual professional mentors and also paired them with four peer mentors.

Debra Cannoles
Debra Cannoles

The importance of the “Mentoring Your Way to Success” networking event was that it “supports the mentee-mentor relationship and allows all program participants to interact, combined with invited guests for increased exposure,” says Debra Cannoles, a business and accounting major who is the ALEX Mentorship Program coordinator and also works part-time at the registrar’s office.

Dinner and dessert were provided, with a panel discussion following to help give students a clearer idea about possible future paths.

In attendance were the 12 mentees as well as peer and professional mentors who were able to make it despite the pouring rain and hectic schedules. Four professional mentors as panelists briefly discussed their current career activities, why they chose their fields, and what choices they made in and beyond college.

The professional mentors were Gaylen Kalipi, finance and human resources assistant at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center; Alexander Kay-Wong, project coordinator of HFS Federal Credit Union; Ashley De Mattos, marketing coordinator at HFS Federal Credit Union, and Kesha Kubo, Information Center coordinator at Hawaiʻi Community College.

Panel member sit at table: Kesha Kubo, Ashley De Mattos, Alexander Kay-Wong, and Gaylen Kalipi.
Professional Mentor panel at the recent networking event (l-r) Kesha Kubo, Ashley De Mattos, Alexander Kay-Wong, and Gaylen Kalipi. Photo by Kara Nelson.

Following their introductions, panel members answered student questions, such as, “If you could have done or changed something in college, what would it be?”

Why mentoring?

The ALEX Mentorship Program matches UH Hilo students with both peer mentors and professional mentors. These mentors are alumni or friends of UH Hilo.

“A mentor is someone that through support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example helps a mentee to reach his or her life and career goals,” states the program’s flyer.

During this partnership, professional mentors work on an individual basis with student mentees to look at a career path and prepare them for the post-graduation workforce. Ideally, such mentor-mentee relationships will begin during students’ freshmen or sophomore years.

“The Mentorship Program is important for students because it provides mentoring on two levels: peer mentors assist and guide mentees in their activities — tutoring, advising, providing information, et cetera, anything the student requires regarding college life — and professional mentors who advise, coach and provide support for mentees as they prepare to complete college and transition to higher educational pursuits or employment,” says Cannoles.

Cannoles states that mentees and mentors are paired based on their majors and interests. Although peer mentors may change, professional mentors won’t. “Peer mentors are familiar with the university system, contact information, professors, courses, et cetera, and provide support for mentees in completing their college requirements,” she says.

Benefits for students

Many of the student mentees have noted the positive experiences they’ve gained during their participation in the ALEX program, which bodes well for future participants.

Christine Presiados
Christine Presiados. Photo by Kara Nelson.

Christine Presiados, who was matched with peer Tehani Palolo and professional mentor Pele Thomas, program coordinator at UH Hilo’s Center for Global Education and Exchange, states that Thomas has made her feel “more confidence” and “more comfortable” with having chosen to be in CoBE as a business administration major with a concentration in management, and a communication minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. Through her mentor, Presiados has gained assistance in preparing for interviews and writing her resume. Next semester, Presiados will be taking over as the ALEX program coordinator.

“This program has taught me the significance of networking,” says Presiados. “I gained knowledge from multiple employers I never thought I would learn as a sophomore. My mentor, Pele Thomas, and peer mentor, Tehani Palolo, have taught me insight to a healthy balance in and out of the classroom. After an experience as a mentee and the next program coordinator, I hope to help more students take initiative to reach their career goals.”

Laura Hughes
Lara Hughes. Facebook photo.

Lara Hughes, a business administration major and editor-in-chief of the student paper Ke Kalahea, says she has also been aided by her professional mentor Kesha Kubol. “I’ve gotten a lot of really good feedback and positive affirmation out of my mentor and she’s been really helpful in telling me what types of decision she makes in the situations I find myself in that are difficult,” Hughes explains. She has found it beneficial to “gauge” her own reaction with that of her mentor and other people when faced with difficult situations.

Jerome Germine.
Jerome Gemine. Lambda Psi photo.

Jerome Gemine, a junior in business administration with a personal business and a member of Delta Sigma Pi, Lambda Psi Chapter, says the program has been the “official start” of his involvement with ALEX. It allowed him to personally meet Tom DeWitt, associate professor of marketing and the director of ALEX. “It has helped me achieve a closer affiliation with other like-minded individuals and also locked me into an internship with ALEX in the Fall,” Gemine states. His internship will be focused on marketing, with duties like classroom visits and student recruitment.

“I’ve been able to get additional networking opportunities within the program. All parties involved have a wealth of knowledge regarding the various business ventures — either locally or elsewhere — and are able to connect you with people if needed,” Gemine says. His peer mentor is Aaron Zackoski and his professional mentor is Patrick Jenkins, a business teacher at Hilo High School who owns a personal video company.

“The mentors’ real life experiences during and after college are also a great learning tool. It is a foreshadowing of what to expect after graduation, while also stating what to do the same, or differently, while working to get a degree. Very helpful indeed,” Gemine concludes.

Mentorship Program Information Session, April 21

In the upcoming fall 2015 semester, the program will be open to all majors at UH Hilo.

ALEX recently was working to hand out brochures and sign-up students for the upcoming Mentorship Program Information Session on April 21st. “At the session, we will be recruiting mentees, peer mentors and professional mentors,” says Cannoles. Free ice cream will be provided. DeWitt said that to date, they have recruited over 60 students for this informational session.

According to Cannoles, the deadline for UH Hilo students to register for the upcoming mentorship program is April 30, 2015.

For more information about the ALEX Mentorship Program, the upcoming information session on April 21, or to sign up for next semester’s Mentorship Program before the April 30th deadline, contact Tom DeWitt.


About the author of this story: Kara Nelson is a senior at UH Hilo double majoring in English and communication. She is an intern in the Office of the Chancellor and writer for UH Hilo Stories.