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Heritage Management to highlight spring commencement

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Date: Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669

For Immediate Release

The Master of Arts (MA) program in Heritage Management at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo will mark a new chapter in its history by awarding its first degrees at spring commencement on Saturday, May 13, at 9 a.m. at Edith Kanaka`ole Stadium.

The program’s first graduates are among students who have petitioned for degrees and/or certificates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences (591), Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (28), Business and Economics (52), Pharmacy (153), Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language (40), and for various post-graduate honors (25).

President Tommy Esang Remengesau, Jr., the ninth president of the Republic of Palau and the first Palauan to be elected president four times, will deliver the keynote address. In office, he has focused on financial stability, good governance, and amplified Palau’s international leadership while emphasizing the importance of regional and global partnerships. Remengesau highlighted his collective approach to addressing ocean, climate and environmental issues as a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the 2016 International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Honolulu.

His leadership on environmental issues has earned him numerous awards and accolades, which include the International Game Fish Association’s IGFA Conservation Award in 2014 and the 2016 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in National Stewardship for leading the historic effort to implement the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. The protected, no-take sanctuary covers 80 percent of Palau’s territorial waters and is the world’s sixth largest, fully protected marine area.

Remengesau has been named one of the heroes of the environment by TIME magazine, received the Pacific Islands Environmental Leadership Awards inaugural Pacific Champion Award, The United Nations’ Champion of the Earth Award, and the Inspiring Conservation Award from the international conservation organization known as Rare.

Three family members, including two of his children, are graduates of UH Hilo.

Karla Kapo`aiola Ahn, a Performing Arts major, will be the student speaker.

Ahn’s major has been an extension of her professional career, which has often placed her in the public spotlight as a former radio broadcaster on Maui and an entertainer. Her address will link the struggles she and her classmates have experienced as students from her perspective as a non-traditional student, a member of the workforce, and the parent of two grown daughters, who are already college graduates.

Ahn served as College of Arts and Sciences Senator for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) during the 2011-2012 academic year, and is involved with the University Chorus and Kapili Choir.

She describes earning her degree as one of her life’s greatest achievements and leaves with immense gratitude for her professors, advisors, administrators and staff she has worked with since arriving on campus seven years ago.

“I am not the same person I was when I came to this University,” Ahn said. “The growth I have experienced I credit to all of my professors and others as well as the students and classmates, some of whom have become lifetime friends.”


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