UH scholarships honor the late Rep. Clift Tsuji’s contributions to agriculture

Friends and family of the late state representative have established two endowed scholarships—one at UH Hilo and one at Hawai‘i Community College—to support full-time undergraduate students pursuing degrees in agriculture.

Group shot of friends, family and members of the UH community.
Friends, family and members of the UH community gather at ceremonies announcing two endowed scholarships established in honor of late State Rep. Clift Tsuji. Courtesy photo.

Building on the late Rep. Clifton Tsuji’s legacy of giving back to the Hawai‘i Island community, 159 friends, supporters and family members raised $81,000 to fund endowed scholarships for University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College students pursuing degrees in agriculture.

“My dad loved his job and viewed it as an honor to service the people of the Big Island as a state representative,” says Ryan Kalei Tsuji about his father. “There were many things he was passionate about but there is no doubt that agriculture in Hawai‘i and supporting this industry was something that really resonated with him. We are so thankful to the many donors and supporters who contributed to this endowment scholarship. Our hope is that through this scholarship we can continue his passion and commitment to making a difference in the community even after his passing.”

The two endowed scholarships are The Representative Clift Tsuji Memorial Endowed Scholarship for the Hawai‘i Community College Agricultural Program to support full-time undergraduate students pursuing a degree in agriculture, and The Representative Clift Tsuji Memorial Endowed Scholarship for the UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management to support full-time undergraduate students pursuing a degree in agriculture.

“Hawai‘i Community College is honored to be a recipient of generous contributions from the supporters of the late Rep. Clift Tsuji,” says Hawai’i Community College Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas. “This scholarship fund is a testament to his legacy of service and commitment to the community. For a community to give back to the next generation of learners is an amazing statement on why this island is so special.”

Born and raised in Papaikou, State Rep. Tsuji was a graduate of Hilo High School and went on to earn a bachelor degree from UH Mānoa. He also attended the University of Washington, Pacific Coast Banking School. Tsuji served in the U.S. Army Reserve, 442nd Infantry, Company B, Hilo, from 1959–1965. Representing House District 2 including Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Pana‘ewa and Waiākea, Tsuji was chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and was named the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau’s Legislator of the Year in 2015.

Tsuji was a passionate proponent of agriculture and biotechnology. He was also active with the Hilo Medical Center Foundation, Hawai‘i Island Japanese Community Association, Pacific Tsunami Museum, Hiroshima Kenjin Kai, Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Kumamoto Kenjin Kai.

“I learned so much from Clift Tsuji about Hilo, Hawai‘i Island and agriculture, ” says UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney. “This scholarship will ensure that, for years to come, many students will continue to learn from his legacy.”

-Media release from the UH Foundation.