New Fujimoto Family Endowment benefits students in the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics

Each semester, the endowment will fund a scholarship of $500 to several students enrolled in one of the college’s degree programs who have been accepted into an internship program.

By Susan Enright.

Group standing with large mock-up of check: January 31, 2017, UH Foundation- UHH CoBE, $40,000.00, Fujimoto Family Endowment is written on check.
Three Fujimoto Scholars—(center, l-r) William Lewis, Rissa Domingo, and Julia Jaitt—were honored at a recent scholarship inauguration ceremony held at UH Hilo. At far left is Drew Martin, dean of the College of Business and Economics, and at far right is benefactor Bobby Fujimoto. Courtesy photo.

Students majoring in business and economics at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo can now pursue a new scholarship at the university thanks to an endowment bestowed to the university by a family of local business leaders.

The Robert M. and Alice K. Fujimoto Foundation established the $35,000 endowment fund last fall to support students pursuing a degree at the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics. An additional gift of $5,000 was given to make awards immediately available to students this year.

Students must also be doing or pursuing at least one internship to qualify for the funds.

“On behalf of UH Hilo, we are deeply honored and proud to be the recipient of Bobby Fujimoto’s generous contribution to establish this scholarship fund,” says UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney. “His gift will inspire and motivate students to reach their highest level of achievement while applying their learning to the real world of business before they graduate with their degree.”

Three Fujimoto Scholars—William Lewis, Rissa Domingo, and Julia Jaitt—were honored at a recent scholarship inauguration ceremony held at the college.

Each semester, the endowment will fund a scholarship of $500 to several students enrolled in one of the college’s degree programs who have been accepted into an internship program. The funds can be used for costs associated with attendance such as tuition, books and fees.

“The Fujimoto Family Scholarship is a game-changer for our students,” says Drew Martin, dean of the college. He notes a student he met recently who is taking the term off from school because he is $300 short for expenses. “Our students walk a fine line between working enough to pay for their educations and finding enough time to study.”

The benefactor

HPM Building Supply, a longtime local business run by generations of the Fujimoto family, has been a strong supporter of internship programs for many years.

“The company’s management believes applied learning is an important part of a student’s education,” explains Martin. “Support from the Fujimoto family demonstrates how the community can support our efforts to provide a quality business education.”

Robert “Bobby” Fujimoto, third generation at the family-run lumber and building materials business who became president of the company in 1954, has met with—and been impressed by—several UH Hilo business and economics students enrolled in internship programs.

“Mr. Fujimoto decided to take his commitment to student education and the community to a higher level,” says Martin. “He has provided a very generous gift to help students pay for their education and to support applied learning experiences. The outcome is our students are better prepared to become productive members of society.”

In addition to his $40,000 gift to the College of Business and Economics, Fujimoto has also made smaller but meaningful gifts to the UH Hilo ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, UH Hilo Vulcan Athletics, UH Hilo Enrichment Funds and Hawai‘i Community College Enrichment Funds.

“We are also grateful for [Bobby’s] long years of service as a member and chairman of the Board of Regents,” says Straney. “His leadership was critical to shaping the University of Hawai‘i System as it is today.”

Scholarship inauguration ceremony

A scholarship inauguration ceremony was recently held at the College of Business and Economics. In addition to the three honorees, students, administrators, faculty, members of the local business community and members of the Fujimoto family attended.

Giving a few remarks at the event were Mariko Miho from the UH Foundation, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Matt Platz, UH Hilo alumnus Kā‘eo Awana who works at HPM, Bobby Fujimoto and son Michael Fujimoto.

Group standing for photo. Benefactor Bobby Fujimoto wears a lei.
Faculty, administrators, and members of the Fujimoto family gather for photo at the Fujimoto Scholarship inauguration ceremony. (l-r) Mariko Miho, Drew Martin, Tam Vu, Roberta (Fujimoto) Chu, benefactor Bobby Fujimoto, Wendy (Fujimoto) Matsuura, Mike Fujimoto, Emmeline dePillis, and Peter Matsuura. Courtesy photo.

At the event, Lara Hughes (former public information intern in the UH Hilo Office of the Chancellor) was asked by Martin to share her personal story about the importance of internships during her studies at the university.

In her remarks, Hughes spoke about her experience receiving a scholarship to be an intern at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia over the summer; she was one of only two interns at the convention who earned a promotion during their internships.

“Receiving that scholarship and working as an intern for such a historic event, with such incredible professionals has opened my eyes to what the world can provide for me, and just how capable I truly am,” says Hughes in her inspirational message to the new beneficiaries and other students in attendance.

“This experience and all it has taught me, will stay with me for a lifetime. I also have no doubt that it will serve to help me move into the type of career that I hope to pursue.”


About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.