Mar 162017

Taupōuri Tangarō uses the creation of Hawaiian cordage as a medium for academic success. He is one of five featured in an exhibit opening March 18 at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

Poster for the event


EXHIBIT: Hulia ʻAno: Inspired Patterns.
DATES: March 18, 2017 – October 16, 2017.
PLACE: Bishop Museum, Honolulu.

Taupōuri Tangarō

The Hawaiian cordwork done by Taupōuri Tangarō, director of Hawaiian culture and protocols engagement for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College, will be featured in an exhibit at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu. The museum is the world premier center for Hawaiian and Oceanic material arts and the exhibit features the patterns found in Hawaiian creative works.

Tangarō’s work threads the expansive world of cordage into modern relevance. As a kumu hula of Unukupukupu, he also teaches students, faculty and the greater community the benefits of perceiving the world from multiple perspectives.

He is one of five artists presenting at the exhibit and the only one whose published biography notes using corage medium for academic success.

“This is a great opportunity to expound further the university’s commitment to indigenize,” he explains. “A unique opportunity to create a discussion on the role of traditional arts as a process for academic success.”


Patterns, intricate and vibrant, are a trademark of Hawaiian artistic expression, whether stamped onto barkcloth, drawn onto gourds, woven into mats or pricked into skin. In celebration of Hawaiian creative vision, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum presents the upcoming exhibit Hulia ‘Ano: Inspired Patterns, on display in the J. M. Long Gallery from March 18–Oct. 16, 2017.

Drawing from the treasures in Bishop Museum’s ethnology collection and supplemented by its vast natural science collections, Hulia ‘Ano explores Hawaiian aesthetic traditions, spotlighting design motifs and visual similarities in the natural world.

This original exhibit examines the ʻano—or nature—of an object in pattern, shape and form.

In keeping with the aesthetic emphasis of the show, displays are organized on the basis of design motifs, in contrast with the more conventional contexts of function or material. Each exhibit case throughout Hulia ‘Ano is represented by a single Hawaiian word and its many definitions. These words were chosen as visual or conceptual descriptions of the patterns presented in the cases.

The results are wonderful and intriguing groupings of cultural and natural objects which, considered together with the word definitions, can enhance the understanding of patterns and provoke creativity and contemplation.

Read more about the exhibit and the other artists on the Bishop Museum website.

Mar 142017

UH Hilo researchers believe the biggest challenge that Hawaiian tree species will face in the future is how quickly they will get water, especially in higher temperatures.

By Anne Rivera.
This story is the second in a series on climate change research at UH Hilo.

Joanna Norton and Prof. of Biology Becky Ostertag stand together in a garden.

(l-r) UH Hilo graduate student Joanna Norton and Prof. of Biology Becky Ostertag. Photo by Zoe Coffman.

Scientists at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are tackling climate change issues with numerous research projects focusing on a variety of target areas ranging from testable theories to the collection of data. In many of the projects UH Hilo faculty, graduate students, and island resource managers are working together to conduct important collaborative research focused on building the community’s ability to adapt to future climate and land use changes.

Professor of Biology Becky Ostertag leads two such projects—a long-term forest research project with many partners across the Hawaiian islands, and a separate research study with graduate student Joanna Norton. Both projects link established and potential problems related to our forests to further help scientists and island resource managers understand the effects of climate change on the island’s environment.

Forest studies

Ostertag’s project, called the Hawai‘i Permanent Plot Network or HIPPNET, is the deployment of permanent research sites across Hawai‘i that track various factors in Hawaiian forests—the birth and death of trees, growth rates, species and so forth—all monitored with the data compiled together like an information packet. This comprehensive history helps to evaluate how Hawaiian species respond to climate fluctuations and allows researchers to make predictions about how Hawaiian forests will do with long term climate change. The collected field data relates to climate change by linking factors such as minimum and maximum temperatures, rainfall, solar radiation, soil moisture and wind speed.

The biggest issue that Hawaiian species will face is how quickly they will get water, especially in higher temperatures, Ostertag explains.

“Water is going to become an important issue with climate change,” she says.

Prof. Ostertag earned her bachelor of arts in biology from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, and later received her doctor of philosophy in botany from the University of Florida in Gainesville. At UH Hilo, she teaches, leads her own research projects, and chairs and advises students in the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science graduate program as she is with Joanna Norton.

Ostertag’s HIPPNET project is a collaboration with the Institute of Pacific Island Forestry of the USDA Forest Service, the University of California-Los Angeles, and UH Mānoa, and has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Pacific Southwest Research Station of the USDA Forest Service, and the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center based at UH Hilo.

Logos of the various agencies supporting the HIPPNET project.

The HIPPNET project is a collaborative research project with support from a cross section of agencies. Click to enlarge.

Additional funding from the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center allows Ostertag and fellow researchers to investigate sapflow, the rate in which trees take up water.

Albizia studies

Norton’s research is part of the UH Hilo collaborations with the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center that link graduate students, agency and community natural resource managers and faculty to focus on today’s challenges related to climate change.

Norton’s project focuses primarily on alternative agricultural methods investigating the use of an invasive albizia tree species (Falcataria moluccana), found here on Hawai‘i Island, as an alternative fertilizer.

Agriculture is one of the biggest influences in climate change—carbon dioxide and methane gas are contributors, however nitrous oxide is the biggest component.

“It is a much more powerful greenhouse gas and it’s coming out of agricultural fields which makes it reactive,” Norton explains.

Oftentimes agricultural gas emitted from the fertilizers is not mentally registered because it is considered routine and regular agriculture.

Norton’s research project includes the collection of albizia trees which are chipped, composted and then spread across agricultural lands ranging from Hilo to Kohala. After the composted albizia trees are dispersed across these agricultural plots, Norton will compare it to chemical fertilizers by analyzing differences in plant growth, soil and plant nutrient levels, and soil water holding capability.

A large pile of wood chips and an orange tree trimming truck in a horse pasture, a black and white horse looks on.

UH Hilo graduate student Joanne Norton’s research project includes the collection of albizia trees, which are chipped, composted and then spread across agricultural lands ranging from Hilo to Kohala. Photo by J. Norton.

Norton originally hails from Washington, DC, but has spent half her life in Hawai‘i. She earned a bachelor of science in biology from UH Hilo, and is now earning a master of science at the university’s Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science program.

She says she came back to school after being in the “work world” and continues to work with various employers conducting agricultural experiments. Her research project is similar to her work, however, she is given the freedom to design the agricultural question.

“Here at UH Hilo, I am learning the latest research on agriculture, invasive species, and climate change, which gives my work context,” she says. “I’m learning how to ask and answer questions in a scientific way as well as learning the logistics and planning that goes into a research project.”

By designing and implementing her own research project, Norton is gaining more than just answers to untested questions—she is learning useful and applicable techniques and information that will help her understand climate change and how adjustments might be made to adjust or prevent these fluctuations.

Partnerships and collaborations

Norton’s agricultural investigations also interfaces with the HIPPNET forest research project, which is in collaboration with a worldwide network called the Center for Tropical Forest Science—projects involved with this network use similar tools for data analysis, which allows for cross-site studies. These cross-site studies show how Hawaiian forests compare to other tropical forests and some temperate forests across the globe.

A map of the world showing the countries participating in The Center for Tropical Forest Science global network.

The UH Hilo HIPPNET project is part of The Center for Tropical Forest Science – Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO), a global network of forest research plots and scientists dedicated to the study of tropical and temperate forest function and diversity. The multi-institutional network comprises over 60 forest research plots across the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, with a strong focus on tropical regions. CTFS-ForestGEO monitors the growth and survival of approximately 6 million trees and 10,000 species. Click photo to enlarge. Source.

This ability to compare Hawaiian forests and species with the outside world influences Norton’s project. Norton’s project compares a variety of factors, one of which includes the albizia tree fertilizer’s ability to retain water. The HIPPNET plot project’s observations and data analyses show that the water intake rate of Hawaiian tree species means there is a need for alternative fertilizer options. Norton is researching and testing one of many purposed alternative methods.

Norton’s work is funded by the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center, which works in conjunction with managers and scientists from a collaborative agency called the Big Island Invasive Species Committee. Norton’s partnership with BIISC—part of the Manager Climate Corps—is to ensure that her research is applicable to the community—invasive species have become a hard-pressing problem on the island because the invaders force competition between native and invasive species for limited resources and nutrients.

Norton looks forward to continuing her work in agricultural research after graduation. She wants to combine her “on-the-ground skills with the expertise and scientific perspective.”

“Whether my work is primarily in agriculture, land conservation, or climate science, I hope to use my positions to take a multidisciplinary systems approach that is concerned with the entire situation,” she says.

This post was updated on 3/16/2017 to include more details about community partnerships and research projects.


About the author of this story: Anne Rivera (junior, communication) is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

-UH Hilo Stories


Also in this series:

Climate change research at UH Hilo: Tree rings and bird song

Mar 022017

Students Leslie Arce, Jerold Cabel, and Marjie Retundo captured 1st place in the PSA event at the conference. Chrisovolandou Gronowski, Kateleen Bio and Lark Canico won recognition in other categories.

Students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo claimed top honors in multiple categories at a state conference for health occupation students. The 12th Annual HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference was recently held on Oʻahu.

HOSA at UH Hilo members Leslie Arce, Jerold Cabel, and Marjie Retundo captured 1st place in the Public Service Announcement event with their 30-second PSA on “My Preparedness Story: Staying Healthy and Resilient!” (See video above.)

Individual winners included Chrisovolandou Gronowski in Behavioral Health and Kateleen Caye Bio in Pharmacology. Lark Jason Canico placed 2nd in Prepared Speaking with his topic on “Leadership, Service, and Engagement.”

In other results, HOSA at UH Hilo was awarded Honorable Mention as one of the largest post-secondary chapters in the state. The gathering also elected Canico, the immediate past president (local chapter) and Hawaiʻi Island HOSA regional coordinator, as the new Hawaiʻi HOSA post-secondary vice president.

Cecilia Mukai

“HOSA at UH Hilo’s growth and performance over the years has been impressive,” says Cecilia Mukai, professor of nursing and faculty advisor to UH HOSA serving her last semester with the group. “I want to thank everyone who has supported this group, which has a positive influence on students pursuing health-related careers.”

The HOSA at UH Hilo team now moves on to the International Conference, scheduled for June 21-24, at Disney’s Coronado Springs in Orlando, Florida.


Media release

Mar 012017

The annual International Nights is the time of year when all eyes are focused on the many cultures and international students represented at UH Hilo.

Photos by Bob Douglas.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo hosted the annual International Nights on Feb. 10 and 11, 2017. Each year, the UH Hilo International Student Association produces a two-night show that features dance performances from the many different cultures and countries represented at UH Hilo. International Nights is a long-standing tradition at the university that spans over three decades, and is a favorite event on campus among students, the community and visitors.

Performers volunteer their time, a testament to the willingness of UH Hilo’s international students to share their cultures with others.

Jim Mellon

Jim Mellon

The event is headed by Jim Mellon, executive director of global and intercultural education programs.

“The shows are a celebration of the vibrancy and diversity of cultures that make UH Hilo such a special place,” says Mellon. “It provides a platform for students from around the world to express and showcase their cultures, and for people to learn about other parts of the world.”

He adds, “International Nights is a time of year when all eyes are focused on the many cultures and international students represented at UH Hilo, who contribute so much in so many ways to student life on campus and in the community.”

Photos are arranged in order of appearance during the two-night event. Click photos to enlarge.



Hālau I Ka Leo Ola O Nā Mamo: “‘O Hawai‘i Ku‘u Kulāiwi”



French à la Carte: “Vive la Ressemblance!”



Nicole Smith: “Contemporary Freestyle Tai Chi”



The Bayanihan Club: “Traditional Dances of the Philippines”



Taishoji Taiko: “Seishunjidai”



Wa’ab Student Organization: “Gamel” (Yapese Bamboo Dance)



Tupulaga O Samoa Mo A Taeao: “O lupe sa vao eseese, a ua fuifui fa‘atasi” (“No matter where you’re from, Samoa will always be united as one”)



Big Island Kiribati Club



Spirit of Ireland: “Hawai‘i Irish Dance”



Kosrae Hilo Organization: “Green Hills and Sra Lo Tol”



Big Island Desi: “Indian Fusion Dance”



Chuukese Student Association



Ngelekel Belau Club



INT Dance Squad: “Two Worlds”



Marshallese Iakwe Club: “Biit Dance”


About the photographer: Bob Douglas is a local artist, photographer, and sometimes part-time student who volunteers his photography skills to the Office of the Chancellor and UH Hilo Stories. 

-UH Hilo Stories

Feb 282017

A UH Hilo Black History Month event—Soul Food for Thought Café—not only highlighted African American history but it also cohesively brought together cultures that comprise the UH Hilo community.

By Anne Rivera. Photos of performers by Zoe Coffman.

Pricilla Momah performs at the Soul Food for Thought Café event held Feb. 24 at the Campus Center Dining Hall, UH Hilo. Other performers below. Photos by Zoe Coffman, click to enlarge.


February is Black History Month and several events have been held on campus centered around the impacts the black community has had in history. Last Friday, Soul Food for Thought Café was held at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Campus Center Dining Hall. There was an array of events ranging from poetry and music to hula.

Vince McMillon performs at Soul Food for Thought Café held during Black History Month at UH Hilo.

Soul Food for Thought Café not only highlighted African American history but it also cohesively brought together cultures that comprise the UH Hilo community. The vibrant and energetic colors, sounds and food not only resonated in the hearts and minds of those in attendance but it touched the souls of those who performed and participated.

The performers ranged from UH Hilo students to faculty as well as members of the Hilo community. Some performers participated for the first time, like Vince McMillon.

McMillon is a local bus driver and has been writing poetry since he was 10 years old—he comes from a family of writers and this was only his second time reciting his own work to an audience in a public forum. He says he loves hearing the spoken word and loved the inclusion of other cultures like Shelbi Shimazu’s hula performances and Pricilla Momah’s musical and vocal talent.

Shelbi Shimazu performs hula at Soul Food for Thought Café.

“I liked that it was not all Black culture,” McMillon says. “MC Michele Dalton mentioned at the beginning that Hawaiian and Black cultures are on the same plate and I would agree. I was impressed by and pleased that all cultures were invited. Plus, the performances were done by people of all races which was refreshing.”

Several UH Hilo students were in attendance—Maddy Shackleford, a transfer student and biology major from Seattle, Washington, was one. Shackleford says she was excited to attend Soul Food for Thought Café not only because of the delicious food but because she was interested in seeing some of the local talent from people a part of the UH Hilo campus as well as members of the Hilo community.

“The personal poems touched me the most,” she explains. “It helped further blur the societal lines put in place between races and classes.”

On the menu at the Campus Center Dining Hall to complement the annual Soul Food for Thought Café event, clockwise from top: Extra Cheesy Macaroni & Cheese with Fried Okra & Collard Greens, Cornmeal Fried Snapper with Lemon Dill Tartar Sauce, and Southern Fried Chicken. Photo courtesy Sodexo.

Shackleford says it’s nice to see people of varying culture and ethnicity come together to perform a range of activities especially with the current political discord occurring in the media world and social atmosphere.

Ginger Hamilton, director of the Minority Access and Achievement Program, and Michael Marshall, professor and chair of the Department of Art, currently hold seats on the Black History Month Committee on campus that coordinated and facilitated this event.

“We’ve been collaborating on events like this around campus for many years,” says Marshall. “The work of Student Affairs often intersects with academics—for example like Filipino American Heritage Month hosted in October.”

The University Chorus, under the direction of music instructor Amy Horst, performs “As Long As I Have Music” at the Soul Food for Thought Café event held Feb. 24 at the UH Hilo Campus Center Dining Hall.

Ginger Hamilton. Photo by Claudia Hagan.

Hamilton says that she enjoys putting together and participating in these campus events because it is not just her job but also her passion.

“My office represents the underrepresented,” she explains. “I think Black History Month events are empowering to anyone because without civil rights many minority groups would not have the rights they have today.”

“All groups need to have a voice and this is a great avenue and opportunity for that to happen,” she adds.

Michael Marshall. Photo by Claudia Hagan.

Marshall agrees, saying, “It is important to share perspectives and experiences with one another along with placing emphasis on all cultures.”

Numerous students at the event said they would attend another event like this and plan to partake in more events around UH Hilo.


Anne Rivera (junior, communication) is a public information intern and Zoe Coffman (senior, art) is a photography intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

-UH Hilo Stories

Feb 242017

Claire-Ann Niibu-Akau has hired nine UH Hilo student interns to help her revolutionize a new accounting business.

By Lara Hughes.

The Fall 2017 Akau Accounting interns with UH Hilo alumnus and business entrepreneur Claire-Ann Niibu-Akau, pictured front-and-center.

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo alumna Claire-Ann Niibu-Akau has just launched an accounting firm of the future. Niibu-Akau graduated from UH Hilo in December 2015 with a degree in accounting. She opened her business Akau Accounting in the fall, and is looking to innovate her field.

She says, “I’ve been doing bookkeeping and accounting for about 20 years, but I began this firm in November. I wanted to continue to support small businesses in Hawai‘i.”

Niibu-Akau has hired nine UH Hilo student interns to help her revolutionize her practice through technological advancements.

The Akau Accounting organizational structure is designed to be a virtual on-line accounting practice. This allows for remote anywhere-in-the-world bookkeeping for clients far and wide and also provides student-interns in the company with flexibility. Niibu-Akau, her employees and interns are able to work at the hours that best fit their schedules while meeting client demand from virtually anywhere in the world.

Internship program provides diversified and innovative environment

Niibu-Akau hired the nine student interns after participating in the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics Internship and Job Fair. One of her main goals is to help people in the community, and she feels that having interns is a large part of that. As a recent graduate, Niibu-Akau knows what the importance of a good internship experience can provide for students.

“I know that students are very capable and I believe that if given the opportunity, our UH Hilo students have great potential for self-development and personal growth,” she says.

Of the nine students that have been hired, seven are focusing on accounting and two are focusing on marketing.

Niibu-Akau says, “The cool thing is that the interns are so diverse in skill and background.”

The Akau Accounting interns hail from different areas of the globe including China, the Marshall Islands, Hawai‘i and the mainland United States. They come from culturally diverse settings and bring expertise from various walks of life. Niibu-Akau expects the interns will also help a lot of small businesses in the community.

“Interns bring a lot of great ideas, a high level of energy and will grow in their knowledge,” she explains.

Meet the interns on Lara Hughes’s blog post.


-A story written by Lara Hughes (senior, business administration, a former intern in the UH Hilo Office of the Chancellor) and originally posted on her blog.

Feb 212017

Professor of Biology Patrick Hart and his research team are studying the endemic māmane tree and palila bird to learn how to predict future environmental changes.

By Anne Rivera. Photos of Hart Lab by Zoe Coffman.
This story is the first in a series on climate change research at UH Hilo.

Above, Prof. Patrick Hart with Shea Uehana, a graduate student in the Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Sciences Program. Below, some of their work with māmane in Hart Lab. Photos in lab by Zoe Coffman, click to enlarge.


Climate change is on everyone’s radar and the need to figure out the environmental impacts caused by human consumption has been pushing the scientific community. Several research projects stimulated, conducted, and maintained at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are working on this challenge by focusing on innovative methods and ideas that contribute to that field of study and expertise.

There are various research projects around campus that allow students and faculty to work side by side on incredible climate change studies.

Patrick Hart, professor and chair of biology at UH Hilo, has kick-started a few projects in his department that have been ongoing for years.

“We are in a very key place for looking at climate change issues and looking at issues related to biodiversity,” says Hart. “We have this extinction crisis going on in Hawai’i while being in this incredible region of diverse plant and animal species which is fascinating. This dendrochronology research is instrumental in how we will predict future climate shifts on all levels along with being able to prepare for these changes while preserving some of our world’s most amazing plants and animals.”

The dendrochronology project Hart refers to is the study of core samples from indigenous trees on the island of Hawai‘i. His tree ring research project has been in production for almost ten years.

The current research is made possible through the National Science Foundation Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology or CREST program now in its fourth year at UH Hilo and funding from the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center.

Tree rings

Various graduate students have worked on this research alongside Hart, contributing to substantial strides in the science community. Shea Uehana is the current graduate student involved on the project—before him, Kainana Francisco and Tishanna Ben also partook in this inquiry.

Tree rings are used in a variety of ways—they are used to calculate the age of a tree, climate conditions throughout the lifespan of the plant, health of the soil, previous precipitation, etc. The rings on a tree develop at the end of an annual year in the life of the plant and tends to be produced in trees that experience a range of the four seasons.

Dendrochronology is the science of dating events in the environment in former periods by comparative study of growth rings in trees and aged wood. These māmane specimens are ready for study in Hart Lab, UH Hilo. Click photo to enlarge.

Until very recently, it was believed that trees native to and living in tropical climates did not produce rings or did not produce them at the same frequency or accuracy as others in non-tropical climates.

However, Uehana and Hart have discovered that some indigenous trees and nonnative trees surviving in Hawai‘i do in fact produce rings in areas of high elevation. According to Hart, the most surprising thing was finding annual rings in a tropical tree in Hawai‘i.

“We thought it was unusual but then found some nonnative trees planted by ranchers a long time ago, like cedar and different kinds of pine, lay annual rings here,” he explains. “They’ve taken that behavior from the continental United States and kept that annual growth behavior.”

The Hart Lab has dozens of core samples to date and evaluate—the research team’s goal is related to climate change but more specifically to prevention and preservation.

“One of our main goals as an ecology lab is to find out how to preserve species,” says Hart. “We are interested in finding out how long it takes to restore certain trees. This study gives us information on how fast they grow, how old they get, and how long it takes them to mature and be useful.”

They are using tree rings to obtain paleoclimatic data because in some areas of Hawai‘i there is only history as recent as the 1960s.

Uehana says, “In order to understand the way climate change will affect things in the future you need to look at things in the past.”

There is no good record of how climate has varied over time in the Pacific so taking the chronology further back to get a better understanding of how climate has been changing will be beneficial to predicting large scale environmental cycles.

Uehana uses the example of El Nino and La Nina.

“If you can more accurately predict how severe an El Nino or La Nina cycle will be then you can better prepare,” he says.

The māmane and the palila

Palila (Loxioides bailleui). Photo by Jack Jeffery, USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center. Click to enlarge photos.

Hart also conducts bird research that uses algorithms to identify bird songs and sounds, which allows scientists and researchers to identify birds in a particular area by just sound alone. The preservation of the endemic palila (Loxioides bailleui) bird is one of the focuses of this research.

The māmane (Sophora chrysophylla), an endemic tree, provides food and habitat for the palila, hence the spawn of the tree ring research project.

Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla). Photo credit Forest and Kim Star.

“This tree ring study has farther reaching impacts beyond environmental, it is also ecological,” says Uehana. “This study can help us learn how to predict things in the future. If we know the next ten years will be drought years and we know that the optimum conditions for the māmane are just the opposite, then we can deduce that it will not only be a bad decade for the māmane but also a bad decade for the palila.”

The usefulness of prediction, Uehana says, is being able to take measures to counteract the bad cycles.

Hart says he loves working and mentoring students as well as watching them go on to be successful after they graduate and over time. He says true joy is seeing them become impactful on some level. The graduate students previously working on the tree ring project have their findings being published—Francisco has been published in the peer reviewed journal Tropical Ecology (“Annual rings in a native Hawaiian tree, Sophora chrysophylla, on Maunakea, Hawaiʻi“), while Ben has a study being published later this year.

This post was updated on Feb. 25, 2017 to include information on funding.


Anne Rivera (junior, communication) is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

Zoe Coffman (senior, art) is a photography intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

-UH Hilo Stories


Also in this series:

Climate change research at UH Hilo: Collecting data on forests and trees

Feb 162017

Each semester, the endowment will fund a scholarship of $500 to several students enrolled in one of the college’s degree programs who have been accepted into an internship program.

By Susan Enright.

Three Fujimoto Scholars—(center, l-r) William Lewis, Rissa Domingo, and Julia Jaitt—were honored at a recent scholarship inauguration ceremony held at UH Hilo. At far left is Drew Martin, dean of the College of Business and Economics, and at far right is benefactor Bobby Fujimoto. Courtesy photo.

Students majoring in business and economics at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo can now pursue a new scholarship at the university thanks to an endowment bestowed to the university by a family of local business leaders.

The Robert M. and Alice K. Fujimoto Foundation established the $35,000 endowment fund last fall to support students pursuing a degree at the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics. An additional gift of $5,000 was given to make awards immediately available to students this year.

Students must also be doing or pursuing at least one internship to qualify for the funds.

“On behalf of UH Hilo, we are deeply honored and proud to be the recipient of Bobby Fujimoto’s generous contribution to establish this scholarship fund,” says UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney. “His gift will inspire and motivate students to reach their highest level of achievement while applying their learning to the real world of business before they graduate with their degree.”

Three Fujimoto Scholars—William Lewis, Rissa Domingo, and Julia Jaitt—were honored at a recent scholarship inauguration ceremony held at the college.

Each semester, the endowment will fund a scholarship of $500 to several students enrolled in one of the college’s degree programs who have been accepted into an internship program. The funds can be used for costs associated with attendance such as tuition, books and fees.

“The Fujimoto Family Scholarship is a game-changer for our students,” says Drew Martin, dean of the college. He notes a student he met recently who is taking the term off from school because he is $300 short for expenses. “Our students walk a fine line between working enough to pay for their educations and finding enough time to study.”

The benefactor

HPM Building Supply, a longtime local business run by generations of the Fujimoto family, has been a strong supporter of internship programs for many years.

“The company’s management believes applied learning is an important part of a student’s education,” explains Martin. “Support from the Fujimoto family demonstrates how the community can support our efforts to provide a quality business education.”

Robert “Bobby” Fujimoto, third generation at the family-run lumber and building materials business who became president of the company in 1954, has met with—and been impressed by—several UH Hilo business and economics students enrolled in internship programs.

“Mr. Fujimoto decided to take his commitment to student education and the community to a higher level,” says Martin. “He has provided a very generous gift to help students pay for their education and to support applied learning experiences. The outcome is our students are better prepared to become productive members of society.”

In addition to his $40,000 gift to the College of Business and Economics, Fujimoto has also made smaller but meaningful gifts to the UH Hilo ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, UH Hilo Vulcan Athletics, UH Hilo Enrichment Funds and Hawai‘i Community College Enrichment Funds.

“We are also grateful for [Bobby’s] long years of service as a member and chairman of the Board of Regents,” says Straney. “His leadership was critical to shaping the University of Hawai‘i System as it is today.”

Scholarship inauguration ceremony

A scholarship inauguration ceremony was recently held at the College of Business and Economics. In addition to the three honorees, students, administrators, faculty, members of the local business community and members of the Fujimoto family attended.

Giving a few remarks at the event were Mariko Miho from the UH Foundation, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Matt Platz, UH Hilo alumnus Kā‘eo Awana who works at HPM, Bobby Fujimoto and son Michael Fujimoto.

Faculty, administrators, and members of the Fujimoto family gather for photo at the Fujimoto Scholarship inauguration ceremony. (l-r) Mariko Miho, Drew Martin, Tam Vu, Roberta (Fujimoto) Chu, benefactor Bobby Fujimoto, Wendy (Fujimoto) Matsuura, Mike Fujimoto, Emmeline dePillis, and Peter Matsuura. Courtesy photo.

At the event, Lara Hughes (former public information intern in the UH Hilo Office of the Chancellor) was asked by Martin to share her personal story about the importance of internships during her studies at the university.

In her remarks, Hughes spoke about her experience receiving a scholarship to be an intern at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia over the summer; she was one of only two interns at the convention who earned a promotion during their internships.

“Receiving that scholarship and working as an intern for such a historic event, with such incredible professionals has opened my eyes to what the world can provide for me, and just how capable I truly am,” says Hughes in her inspirational message to the new beneficiaries and other students in attendance.

“This experience and all it has taught me, will stay with me for a lifetime. I also have no doubt that it will serve to help me move into the type of career that I hope to pursue.”


About the author: Susan Enright is a public information specialist in the Office of the Chancellor. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

-UH Hilo Stories.

Feb 142017

Historian Kerri Inglis says her goal of having students Kaipo Wahinepio (HIST) and Alana Kanahele (HWST) create the exhibit was to go beyond just relational job experience and technical skills—she wanted them to learn how to present history to a targeted audience.

By Anne Rivera. Photos of exhibit by Zoe Coffman.

(l-r) Associate Professor of History Kerri Inglis stands with students Kaipo Wahinepio and Alana Kanahele who were selected to help curate and produce an exhibit for Black History Month, Mookini Library, UH Hilo. Above is a courtesy photo from Prof. Inglis, other photos of exhibit by Zoe Coffman, click to enlarge.


Black History Month at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is filled with events, movies, performances, and exhibits that focus on the contributions of African Americans throughout American history. For the month of February, there is a featured exhibit at the Edwin H. Mookini Library—this exhibit was curated by students here at UH Hilo.

Kerri Inglis

Black history cannot be confined to just an exhibit, performance, presentation, or written work. The acknowledgement of how African Americans have contributed to the history of the United States is important and vital to fully comprehending history in its entirety. African Americans have been instrumental in American history, Hawaiian history and world history.

Kerri Inglis, associate professor and chair of the UH Hilo history department, was asked to organized the Black History Month Exhibit for 2017 that is being presented for the month of February.

Students Kaipo Wahinepio and Alana Kanahele were selected to help curate and produce this exhibit. Wahinepio, a history major, and Kanahele, a Hawaiian studies major, both say they learned more than they expected to during the curation process. Both were responsible for research, display arrangement and setup along with the written descriptions provided for each historical black figure represented.

Inglis says her goal by having students create the exhibit is to go beyond just relational job experience and technical skills—she wanted them to learn how to present history to a targeted audience.

“I wanted them to think about whose story to present, how to present it, how do we get the attention of the public, what kind of exhibit would be appropriate,” says Inglis. “Do we want one where you just walk by or some other kind that involves more outreach like social media or stimulated word of mouth?”

Inglis mentions how easy it is to criticize and critic a museum, exhibit or presentation but it is different when you are having to create one.

“Think about the tiny things like how large do you make the font so people can read it and how to write concisely about an individual who has contributed greatly to history,” says Inglis.

It is all about how history communicates to the public, Inglis explains. Learning and recognizing historical contributions by others is invaluable, however being able to translate that knowledge from mind to mouth and eventually to paper—where the process begins again—is where the true skill takes place.

Wahinepio elaborated on how Black History Month is important.

“I feel here in Hawai‘i, every ethnic story has a role and it may not be quite as significant here as it is in the continental United States because here it is just another race that we celebrate,” he says.

“But for me it is important because of what it represents to a lot of people and their contributions to history in general.”

He admits that his favorite part about participating in the exhibit was the researching. He was surprised by his discovery of how African Americans contributed, not just to American history but how they played a role in Hawaiian history as well.

“Personally, I wanted to know more about black history here in Hawai‘i in relation to Hawaiian history,” he explains. “I didn’t know we already had a section that covered how African Americans contributed to our history, so I did more research into some other people.”

Kanahele expressed her appreciation for Black History Month as well.

“Many African Americans helped with the human rights we have today,” she says. “Without those people who went through those struggles and challenges, we wouldn’t be able to vote or choose who we can be friends with or have in our lives.”

She says she enjoyed learning new information and gaining the experience and knowledge from partaking in the exhibit—she has a greater understanding of all the work that is put forth in order to produce a successful exhibit.


History comes alive with applied learning experience

Student involvement with applied learning activities around campus allow for the opportunity to learn things that cannot be taught in the classroom. It pulls together classroom education and real life experiences, correlating them to future careers, which is essential for student success.

There are courses offered by the history department here at UH Hilo that help teach students how to communicate history in a public forum. The course—Public History of Hawai‘i (HIST 390)—discusses more than Hawaiian history. It highlights and brings attention to how Hawaiian history is presented to the public. Courses like this go beyond the books and articles and hones the educational lens on analyzing the how as opposed to just the what, which is enlightening.

The Black History Month Exhibit is Wahinepio and Kanahele’s first exhibit, however both express an overwhelming willingness to learn the different aspects of curating along with partaking in another exhibit.


Anne Rivera (junior, communication) is a public information intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

Zoe Coffman (senior, art) is a photography intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

-UH Hilo Stories

Feb 082017

There are over 50 different competitive events, building attributes of leadership, professionalism, knowledge and experience in the student’s area of interest.

Cecilia Mukai

After a great showing at an island competition held recently at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, the university will send 12 representatives to compete at the state health occupation competition Feb. 22-24 in Honolulu. The competition takes place at the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference.

The UH Hilo team will be accompanied by Cecilia Mukai, chapter advisor and professor of nursing.

 Winners at the 2nd Annual Big Island Regional

At the recent regional competition held at UH Hilo, approximately 100 members representing chapters at UH Hilo, Kamehameha Schools-Hawaiʻi, and Kaʻu, Keaʻau and Waiakea High Schools competed in a wide range of events, including pharmacology, nursing assisting, veterinary science, and public health. HOSA offers over 50 different competitive events, building attributes of leadership, professionalism, knowledge and experience in the student’s area of interest.

Members of HOSA at UH Hilo earning top honors included the Public Service Announcement Team of Leslie Arce, Jerold Cabel, and Marjie RetundoShauna Gaylord and Kalalani Kaʻaikala of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) are part of the first CERT to be formed within the HOSA organization in Hawaiʻi.

The individuals who came in first in their respective categories were Kateleen Caye Bio in pharmacology, Sharrylei Fernandez in nutrition, Courtney Guirao in nursing assisting, Chrisovolandou Gronowski in behavioral health, and Justin Allagonez, who led a UH Hilo sweep in the medical terminology category, with John Padapat coming in second, and Hazel Faye Sivila placing third.


HOSA-Future Health Professionals is an international organization with more than 175,000 members and 2.4 million alumni. HOSA was established in Hawaiʻi in 2005 and has grown to more than 1,300 members.


Adapted from media release