UH Hilo alumni and faculty mingled, spoke to the group about their endeavors, won raffles, exchanged business cards and enjoyed the freshly prepared food buffet.
By Lara Hughes.
A networking event hosted by the Alumni & Friends Association of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo was held last Friday evening at the up-and-coming Hilo-based eatery WikiFresh. In attendance were members of the local community, current UH Hilo staff and students, and UH Hilo alumni hailing from as far as O‘ahu.
Alumni were given a platform to address the group, promote their businesses, and network. UH Hilo alumni and faculty mingled, spoke to the group about their endeavors, won raffles, exchanged business cards and enjoyed the freshly prepared food buffet offered by WikiFresh’s Jenna Whiteside.
Having launched their business with a food truck at UH Hilo, Whiteside says, “We always try to do anything we can with UH Hilo, it’s kind of where we got our start. It’s close to our heart.” In addition to the alumni event, WikiFresh is also helping sponsor the UH Hilo athletics department this semester.
Friday’s event coordination was led by recent UH Hilo graduate Claire-Ann Niibu-Akau who received a bachelor in business administration, specializing in accounting, and now runs her own accounting firm.
An active member of the community, she says, “Our goal is to support local businesses, in particular businesses that support UH Hilo. Since WikiFresh is a local business that supports UHH, we decided to start there. In the future, we’d like to host events at other venues, which will feature local businesses that support the university, and hopefully ones that are owned by alumni. We’re always open for ideas on future venues.”
UH Hilo alumna Leilani Soliven attended the event and flew in from O‘ahu to be there.
When asked what had inspired her to fly over she said, “I attended UH Hilo during my first year of my many college years and it was the most memorable year. I’ve known Claire since high school and we remained best friends since.”
Soliven dormed with Niibu-Akau at UH Hilo before moving to New Jersey and receiving her degree from Rutgers University.
The UH Hilo Mission Statement says, “Our kuleana (responsibility) is to improve the quality of life of the people of Hawai‘i,” and it would appear that the university’s alumni seek to carry that vision forward. Niibu-Akau is a believer in social events and feels that they are important for any organization to build its network. “I believe that if alumni can get together, we can make a greater impact in our community,” she says.
Niibu-Akau serves as treasurer of the UH Hilo Alumni & Friends Association and, upon joining the board a few months ago, suggested that they have a committee for social events. She now chairs the committee and says that this was the first in a series of events that the association plans to host.
About the author of this story: Lara Hughes (senior, business administration) is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor.
-UH Hilo Stories