2018 UH Hilo Awards and Recognition Celebration awardees

Date: Friday, May 4, 2018
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669

For Immediate Release

Several members of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo community were honored at the 2018 End of the Year Awards and Recognition Celebration on Thursday, May 3.

University Housing Director Miles Nagata received the Excellence in Service Award.

Nagata oversees University Housing on a 24/7 basis to provide student residents a home-away-from-home. He and his team work closely with administrators to expand and enhance the number of available beds, and for the past two years has worked to address affordability and occupancy. His support for campus initiatives cuts across multiple units, and colleagues look to him for historic knowledge, best practices or the most practical way to get things done. He also supports various events, like the Division of Student Affairs annual fish fry, where he joins colleagues in catching, cleaning and cooking fish.

The Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation was presented to Communication and English Lecturer Patsy Iwasaki.

Iwasaki infuses her teaching with storytelling artistry in graphic novel and video format. Her graphic novel Hamakua Hero: A True Plantation Story and the video documentary of the same name have provided rich distillations of island history for UH Hilo students, along with other readers and viewers. The documentary is an ongoing project on the legacy of island businessman and labor martyr Katsu Goto that has evolved into a community-based production involving numerous individuals from UH Hilo.

The Distinguished Service Award for Improving Student Life was presented to Jim Mellon, executive director of Global Education and Exchange and director of International Student Services and Intercultural Exchange.

Mellon has expanded intellectual, cultural and social learning by securing $8 million from the U.S. Department of Education to support initiatives that include the Student Support Services Program and the Pacific Islander Student Center. International Nights, an event that celebrates the students’ cultures, is another beneficiary of funding secured by Mellon. He helps first-year international students transition to UH Hilo through a Host Family program that connects them with families in the local community. Mellon also connects international students to the community through the Global Ambassadors Program, where they discuss their home cultures at island schools and before community, professional and civic organizations.

The Pūlama ʻIke Award, which recognizes a significant contribution to developing and promoting the spirit and mission of the University, was presented to Performing Arts Center Manager Lee Dombroski.

Dombroski positions UH Hilo as an island-wide community arts resource by developing an annual season of performances for the public ranging from music and dance to educational arts. The artists who perform also become a source of educational opportunities for UH Hilo students by offering masters classes in their respective fields. Dombroski provides free arts performances to school children, and makes PAC facilities and services available to outside promoters and events. She creates new opportunities to showcase the arts, and expands community outreach and participation by partnering with business and community organizations, creating fundraising events and obtaining grants.

Natalie Quinajon, student assistant, Office of Admissions, was named Student Employee of the Year.

Quinajon plays an important role in Admissions’ communication with the public, primarily by monitoring and answering email inquiries, which often requires deciphering complex questions to determine the best course of action. She also serves as the primary tour coordinator by scheduling tour guides and meetings with faculty and Admissions counselors. Quinajon is thorough and mindful when providing information, and exhibits a calm, kind demeanor when speaking with students and parents. This academic year she took on the additional task of transferring Admissions files to the Registrar, which she completed for both the fall and spring semesters.

The first Mentor Recognition Awards were presented to faculty and staff, who were nominated by students and new alumni for their contributions to student success. This year's recipients are:

• Cheryl Ramos, Professor of Psychology
• Hōkū Pihana, Keaholoa STEM Scholars Program Coordinator

The event also recognized retired employees and those receiving various years of service awards.

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