Humans of Hilo

Photographs provided by ‘Opihi

Avion Plummer

Avion Plummer

Senior

May 2018 BA in Linguistics

Where are you from before UH Hilo?

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. I was a student at Shippensburg University before transferring to UH Hilo.

Why did you choose UH Hilo?

I wanted to have access to more of the Asian culture since my goal after graduating from UH Hilo is to work overseas as a professor. UH Hilo was the best fit for me to explore more of those opportunities. I wanted to be part of a diverse campus and UH Hilo is one of the most diverse campuses in the USA. I like that I can study abroad and UH Hilo has a great global exchange program.

What are your plans after UH Hilo?

I am applying for grad school in Korea. After that I want to pursue my PhD in Korea in International Studies with a concentration on Korean Studies.

What do you like best about UH Hilo?

I like that you meet people who are not you. It's not just one culture, it's a good place to learn how to be open-minded.

Aunty Lizzie Kuʻualoha Pankey

Aunty Lizzie Kuʻualoha Pankey

Sodexo cashier in the Campus Center Dining location

Why did you choose UH Hilo?

I enjoy the students, the admin, and the Hawaiian language. My mom was a Hawaiian language teacher, back in Aunty Edith Kanakaʻole’s era, that’s about the time that my mom was teaching up here, at this college. Through my mom, because of her Hawaiian language teaching, we got to meet all the professors at Haleʻōlelo and they would ask her, ʻWas it pono to do this and to do that?”, which mom advised them on.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I have a tattoo of my maiden name on the inside of my left wrist. I love my maiden name because my father’s father was pure Chinese from China and he married a pure Hawaiian lady, so my dad was Hawaiian/Chinese, Lee Hong, and they lived in Kaimū, Puna, Hawaiʻi. I liked the name Lee Hong, but when I got married, it was old school time, so they believed when you marry, your maiden name is no more, you take your married name, which I did, but after coming home, I said, ‘I am a Pankey, but I still love my maiden name, so I’m going to get a tattoo.” I will be getting another tattoo with my married name on my other wrist.

About 1-2 years ago, I told my grandson, “Do you have friends who do tattoos?” and he said, yes, so he took me to his friend and his friend was really, really nice, and he did this tattoo for me with my maiden name. It hurt a little bit, but I clenched my teeth and just held on, and it got done, so it’s okay, but I do have other tattoos. I have kanji on my left ankle, “Love, long life, and happiness”.

I never thought I’d have tattoos. I used to be very shy in high school, but as I matured and got older, I became stronger. I wasn’t so shy and quiet, but I’m still a quiet person.

Juvette Kahawaiʻi

Juvette Kahawaiʻi

Senior

Accounting/Business Administration (Management)

Why did you choose UH Hilo?

Besides it being a comfortable space, at first, it was a financially sound decision for me to attend the college, here at home. I don’t have as much debt as I would have if I went away, but after attending the program here, I’ve been able to foster a lot of great relationships. In a way, I feel like it’s really good exposure here, I don’t have to necessarily go away to get exposure, but it’s also a good opportunity and opportunities do present themselves while being here. I think I’ve really changed from when I first came to college. In the beginning, I would just go to my classes and leave campus with my friends, but over the years I’ve been blessed to get involved with the awesome activities that occur on campus. I joined the SAC (Student Activities Council, one of our Chartered Student Organizations, and even became the Chancellor for Delta Sigma Pi, our professional fraternity on campus. Through these experiences, I became comfortable being by myself as well as being surrounded by others who make me feel more complete.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

My parents are my main inspiration. They’ve always disciplined me since a young child and with having that discipline, I feel like I set my own standards for myself. I know that going to school was something that I really wanted to do. I didn’t really want to just go out into the workforce. They were always there as my support system. Sometimes they may not always like the things that I do, but in the end, they’re still there to support me. I know that they’re proud of me.

What are some of the events in your life that made you who you are now?

My freshman year, I got an internship. I was part of the Business 100 course with Dr. DeWitt and he was very adamant about getting out there and experiencing things, getting an internship, getting experience in general, and I took the opportunity to go look at the Career Fair. I think it was also like a general community internship fair and I learned about the VITA program. VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and basically, I literally knew nothing about taxes. Then they told me, “Hey, here’s the link, follow the link, read all the modules, answer the questions, then there’s a big test, and if you get certified, cool. If not, try again.” And that’s when I really found my stronger desire to actually want to participate in doing income taxes for people. My grandfather is a CPA, my dad is a tax preparer, and they’re really great role models and I kind of want to follow in their footsteps and continue their legacy. By actually taking that internship, I gained general knowledge to help myself so I know how taxes work and I can also help others in the community and empower them so that they know what’s going on with their financials. I know that eventually, I’ll get to wherever I want to be. Generally, once I set my mind on something, I generally achieve it.

Randan Berinobis

Randan Berinobis

Senior

Communication

Randan also earned a BA in Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences from UH Hilo in 2017.

Why did you choose UH Hilo?

I didn’t have the scholarship opportunities out of high school. I’m not the biggest, the strongest or the fastest athlete, I know that. Battling adversity growing up here in Hilo, being in my situation and how all this has happened has been a dream come true. I believe everything happens for a reason. When my mom got sick, if I were at a school far away when my mom was going through her cancer, I would have wanted to come back. Going to UH Hilo has been the best decision of my life.

Do you want to play professionally after graduation?

If it happens, great…. but if it doesn’t, it’s ok. I am happy with what I’ve accomplished here with my basketball career

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m thinking about looking into Physical Therapy school. I also want to give back to my community. That would mean everything to me to be able to work with kids here in Hilo after graduating. Giving the other kids growing up here a mentor would be a blessing to me.

What are some things you’ll take with you from your time at UH Hilo?

I believe you should give all you can and have fight in your heart.