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About Us PISC

Located in Campus Center 307, the Pacific Islander Student Center (PISC, pronounced "peace") was established in 2010 through the generous support of a $1.9 million grant by the US Department of Education to facilitate the success of Pacific island students at UH Hilo. In 2012, UH Hilo received a 5-year AANAPISI grant to fund staffing, services, and programs of the Center.

Mission & Goals

Recognizing that under-represented students are sometimes marginalized on college campuses, the Pacific Islander Student Center at UH Hilo encourages and supports the achievements and contributions of Pacific Islanders on campus and in the surrounding community.

The goals of the Center are to:

  • provide a welcoming, supportive and safe environment
  • facilitate the retention and graduation of Pacific Islanders
  • increase interaction and dialogue among students from different cultures
  • support intercultural understanding and social justice in the pursuit of a more just society
  • enable students, faculty and staff from all cultural backgrounds to learn about Pacific peoples, histories, languages, cultures and contemporary issues
  • combat stereotypes and ethnocentrism

These aims are to be realized in part through educational programming, which promotes changes and growth in knowledge, attitudes and behaviors throughout the campus community.

Meet the Staff

Professional Staff

talaite petrowski

Talaite Petrowski
Coordinator
talaite@hawaii.edu
808.932.7795

Talaite oversees the Pacific Islander Student Center and coordinates Center programs and activities. At UH Hilo, Talaite previously coordinated AmeriCorps, service-learning, and campus and community service programs. She is a past recipient of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs award for excellence in service. A graduate of UH Hilo, she has also worked as a language and culture coordinator/trainer with the US Peace Corps, a language instructor at the University of the South Pacific, a Regional Supervisor with the Fiji Bureau of Statistics, and a family visitation program monitor with the Hawaii Island YMCA. She has lived and traveled extensively, including throughout the Pacific Islands, Egypt and Boston.

Team Leaders

Jacob KomJacob Kom
Position: Team Leader, Student Assistants
Email: jkom@hawaii.edu
Major: Business Administration
Island: Chuuk, FSM
School: Xavier High School

Axel DefnginAxel Defngin
Position: Team Leader, Media Team
Email: axeljd@hawaii.edu
Major: Communications
Island: Yap, FSM
School: Seventh Day Adventist High School

Lisa Abraham-Rengechel
Position: Team Leader, Community Outreach Team
Email: abraham8@hawaii.edu
Major: Business
Island: Palau
School: Hawai╩╗i Community College

Tessa AtenTheresa Kimnoy Aten
Position: Team Leader, Peer Mentoring Team
Email: tkaten@hawaii.edu
Major: Environmental Studies
Island: Palau / Chuuk
School: Xavier High School

Felicia AndrewFelicia Andrew
Position: Team Leader, Health & Wellness Team
Email: af32@hawaii.edu
Major: Pre-Nursing
Island: Palau
School: Mindszenty High School

Cheryll Ligohr
Position: Team Leader, Women's Leadership Team
Email: cligohr@hawaii.edu
Major: Biology (cell & molecular)
Island: Pohnpei, FSM
School: College of Micronesia

Student Assistants

The Student Assistants are the front-line support crew for the PISC serving as receptionists to provide hospitality to visitors and users and to help manage the Center's services and programs.

Jacob KomJacob Kom
Position: Team Leader, Student Assistants
Email: jkom@hawaii.edu
Major: Business Administration
Island: Chuuk, FSM
School: Xavier High School

BenBen Ayin
Position: Student Assistant
Email: ayinbona@hawaii.edu
Major: Communications
Island: Yap, FSM
School: Seventh Day Adventist High School

Charlie TommyCharlie Tommy
Position: Student Assistant
Email: ctommy42@hawaii.edu
Major: Environmental Studies
Island: Chuuk, FSM
School: Saramen Chuuk Academy

Tessa AtenTheresa Kimnoy Aten
Position: Student Assistant
Email: tkaten@hawaii.edu
Major: Environmental Studies
Island: Palau / Chuuk
School: Xavier High School

Pacific Students Media Team

The Pacific Students Media team aims to combat negative stereotypes of Pacific Islanders in the United States particularly in Hawai╩╗i through digital storytelling and other mass medium. You can visit their blog (www.pacificstudents.org), their YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/PacificStudentsMedia), or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PacificStudentsMedia)

Axel DefnginAxel Defngin
Position: Team Leader/ Producer
Email: axeljd@hawaii.edu
Major: Communications / Liberal Studies
Island: Yap, FSM
School: Seventh Day Adventist High School

Erbiland MandiraErbiland Mandira
Position: Technical Editor/ Producer
Email: emandira@hawaii.edu
Major: Communications
Island: Majuro, RMI
School: College of the Marshall Islands

Calvin MyazoeCalvin Myazoe
Position: Producer
Email: cmyazoe@hawaii.edu
Major: Accounting
Island: Majuro, RMI
School: College of the Marshall Islands

Bill YangBill Yang
Position: Producer
Email: billyang@hawaii.edu
Major: Computer Science
Island: Kosrae, FSM
School: College of Micronesia
Vester Robester
Position: Producer
Email: robester@hawaii.edu
Major: Marketing
Island: Pohnpei & Kosrae
School: De Anza College, CA

PISC Advisory Council

The PISC Advisory Council advises the Director on the CenterÔÇÖs services, programs, and its capacity to support Pacific islanders succeed in higher education. It is representative of the uniqueness of the Pacific island groups, cultures, and needs at UH Hilo. Members include the presidents of the various Pacific island student organizations, members of the faculty and staff, partners in the local community, Pacific island alumni.

Purpose

The council is created for the purpose of advising, leading, and preserving the ideals upon which the Pacific Islander Student Center (PISC) was created and helping to ground the PISC'S services and programs in the reality and challenges of our unique island cultures and students.

Members (AY 2015 - 2016)

  • President, Tupulaga O Samoa mo a Taeao (The Samoan Club)
  • President, International Student Association
  • President, Marshallese Iakwe Club
  • President, Waab Student Organization
  • President, Kosrae Hilo Organization
  • President, Ngelekel Belau
  • President, Pohnpei Kaselehlie Club
  • President, Chuukese Student Association
  • Dr. Craig Severance - Faculty, Anthropology
  • Thomas Raffipiy - Community Member, UH Hilo Alumni
  • Jim Mellon - Director, International Student Services & Intercultural Education

Activities

  • liaising with their student clubs, organizations, departments
  • networking with the community at-large regarding the programs and services of the Center
  • assessing the needs, trends and success of the Center's programs and services
  • conducting needs assessment of individual or groups of Pacific island students
  • advocating for the needs of the Pacific island students at UH Hilo
  • attend one planning meeting during the Fall term and other meetings as needed

PISC Ohana

Mission

A network of faculty, staff, and community leaders who support and promote the Pacific Islander Student Center's mission, services, and programs.

Activities

Members of this network will be invited to participate in any number of the following activities as time permits:

  • Welcome Reception: Annual reception during the 2nd or 3rd week of the Fall term to officially recognize and welcome all new Pacific island students to UH Hilo.
  • Professional Mentoring: Serve as professional mentors for Pacific Islander students
  • Pacific Speaker Series: Guest speakers from throughout the Pacific region who will talk about pertinent issues regarding the region.
  • Conferences: Conferences that address the needs of Pacific Islanders in higher education.
  • Highly Engaged Learning Positions: Enabling Pacific islander students at UH Hilo to create meaningful jobs or projects that impact their learning while fulfilling the needs of the Pacific islander community on campus, in Hawai╩╗i, or the region.
  • Pacific Islander Senior Ceremony: Annual ceremony prior to commencement to recognize graduating seniors from the Pacific islands.

Join

Friends of PISC is open to anyone who wishes to join our mailing list. To join please email Talaite Petrowski (talaite@hawaii.edu) with the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Position
  • Organization / Department / Company
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Website (if any)
  • Any questions, comments, or resources that you can offer for the Pacific island students at UH Hilo.