University of Hawaiʻi System News /news News from the ݮ Thu, 23 May 2024 01:48:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 /news/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/cropped-UHNews512-1-32x32.jpg University of Hawaiʻi System News /news 32 32 28449828 Alumna’s Fulbright mission tackles adolescent suicide crisis in South Korea /news/2024/05/22/kamea-macusi-fulbright-scholar/ Thu, 23 May 2024 01:48:18 +0000 /news/?p=198217 Reading time: 2 minutes Kamea Macusi and has utilized her experience to delve into one of the most pressing mental health issues in the country.

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Macusi teaching students in Korea.
Macusi is currently an English teaching assistant in Korea.
Kamea Macusi
Kamea Macusi

Kamea Macusi is making strides as a Fulbright Scholar addressing adolescent suicide in South Korea. The University of Hawaiʻi at ԴDz alumna earned her (MSW) in 2022. She began her Fulbright program in 2023 as an English teaching assistant at two middle schools in Yeosu, South Korea, and has utilized her experience to delve into one of the most pressing mental health issues in the country.

“I always wanted to create good change for the world, and I knew that I wanted to go beyond just sitting within office walls. I wanted to impact the world,” said Macusi.

Her commitment led her to work with Hawaiʻi’s Department of Education and the YMCA during her time in the MSW program, helping her gain valuable experience in teaching and behavioral health.

Macusi’s research centers on the alarming prevalence of suicide among adolescents in South Korea, which ranks among the highest in Asia. Her research found that they were influenced by cultural norms like collectivism, societal pressure and academic competition. Collaborating with colleagues, including Seunghye Hong from the , Macusi conducted a comprehensive study, which will soon be published in the Journal of Safety and Crisis Management. The study identifies key risk factors and proposes interventions to mitigate these issues.

It was because of UH ԴDz that I found the confidence to teach.
—Kamea Macusi

“It was because of UH ԴDz that I found the confidence to teach. The program was introduced to me through my studies, and Fulbright alumni in my cohort encouraged me to apply. A month ago, I was reviewing my old class notes and came across a note from one professor who had dedicated an affirmation to me. ‘Kamea,’ they said, ‘You are a teacher,’ and they continued on to say that even if I did not become a ‘proper’ teacher, I carried the spirit of teaching within me. Now, approximately four years later, I can say they were right.”

Upon completing her Fulbright program at the end of the year, Macusi plans to return to Texas to continue her advocacy work.

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Alumnus credits UH ԴDz with helping to launch engineering career /news/2024/05/22/evan-takushi-uh-manoa-alumnus/ Thu, 23 May 2024 00:11:07 +0000 /news/?p=198193 Reading time: 3 minutes Evan Takushi works on radar programs testing and development for Raytheon.

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person with a hat at a robotics competition

Evan Takushi’s journey at the University of Hawaiʻi at ԴDz proved that hard work and seizing opportunities pays off.

person with a hat at a robotics competition

The 2022 graduate is based in Los Angeles as a systems engineer at Raytheon, an aerospace and defense company. He was first introduced to what UH ԴDz has to offer through a summer engineering program as a junior at Mililani High School. After coming to UH, he first connected with Raytheon at a UH ԴDz career fair. In addition to his studies, Takushi participated in several student organizations, including UH’s (HSFL).

“When I was first introduced to UH, I realized that I could stay home for a fraction of the cost, as well as being able to get these hands-on experiences that other competitive mainland universities would be able to provide,” Takushi said. “If you’re able to use those opportunities to the best of your ability, you can thrive in as many ways as possible. And I feel like that’s where I found myself with the College of Engineering.”

One of the projects Takushi worked on as a student was the Hyperspectral Thermal Imager satellite, which launched from Kennedy Space Center in March 2024. The project’s focus is to gather valuable data for understanding Earth’s surface processes, including volcanic activity, wildfires and soil-moisture levels. Takushi’s experience working on satellites with HSFL and mentoring the Mililani High School robotics team helped propel him into his position with Raytheon, where he now works on radar programs testing and development.

Networking with other successful alums

person in a lab with other people

In addition to his professional achievements, Takushi remains an active participant in UH alumni events in southern California. He credits other UH alumni in the area with helping him to adjust to life in Los Angeles. Takushi also recalled a recent event where Provost Michael Bruno learned about his involvement in the March satellite launch.

“It’s been pretty great to meet the different alumni and see how they support people that come from Hawaiʻi because they know the transition is a little tough just because you’re away from home, away from your family,” Takushi said. “Having them as a contact and a resource has been great for my transition up here. I met quite a bit of my friends that I have now up here just through the UH network of people that work at Raytheon.”

Takushi makes his way back home to Hawaiʻi a couple times a year to visit with family and friends. He sometimes contemplates returning home for work, but says more jobs are needed and further development in the industry to make that a reality. Now thriving in the field, Takushi encourages current and future students to network and take advantage of the opportunities the College of Engineering and UH have to offer.

“If you just reach out to people and build up these connections while you’re in college, you’ll have a strong way to get into the workforce, as well as being able to pivot within the job market,” Takushi said. “UH has a very strong alumni network, and that’s a really important benefit of attending and graduating from UH.”

—By Marc Arakaki

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UHERO: Travelers flock to Japan on weak yen, while inflation climbs /news/2024/05/22/uhero-blog-japan-inflation/ Wed, 22 May 2024 19:18:34 +0000 /news/?p=198183 Reading time: 3 minutes Like all countries, Japan was hit hard by COVID-19, and the economy has struggled to get back on track since.

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large city with buildings

Japan’s economic struggles post-pandemic, unexpected inflation, and interest rate hikes abroad have contributed to the weakest yen in nearly 35 years, approaching 160 yen to the dollar. While visitors to Japan, especially from Hawaiʻi, see it as an opportunity for a travel experience at a more affordable rate, experts say it imposes costs on Japan’s people and has mixed implications for Japan’s businesses.

large snow capped mountain behind a city

“For Hawaiʻi residents looking to travel to Japan, now is a great time. The dollar may never again have this much purchasing power in Japan,” said (UHERO) Senior Research Fellow and Professor Emeritus Byron Gangnes. “U.S. travelers to Japan may have to compete with strong demand from Japanese themselves, who are discouraged from foreign travel by the weak yen.”

. According to Gangnes, like all countries, Japan was hit hard by COVID-19, and the economy has struggled to get back on track since. Some headwinds are familiar to Japan: the softness in foreign markets (more sellers than buyers) has hurt an economy for which exports remain an important source of growth. But the pandemic’s aftermath also brought unfamiliar conditions, in particular renewed inflation in a country that averaged less than 0.2% inflation between 1995 and 2019.

Economic challenges ahead

As consumer prices surged from zero to more than 4% in 2021–23, real wages (wages adjusted for inflation) declined sharply, falling by more than 6% before stabilizing recently. As a result, consumer spending has contracted for the past four quarters, pulling down overall GDP.

Trade has also weighed on Japanese growth. Through much of 2022 and 2023, exports to China and the rest of Asia were particularly weak, reflecting China’s economic struggles and their regional impacts, even as exports to the rich developed regions were expanding at a healthy pace.

Concerns about renewed inflation led the Bank of Japan (BOJ), the country’s central bank, to move away from the extraordinary period of zero interest rates and longer-term rate control. Its moves are expected to be limited and will have to take into account any further weakness in the economy. While a higher-rate policy might be expected to support a stronger yen, BOJ’s announced policy change has not halted a decline in the currency. A weak yen will continue to weigh on Japanese travel and domestic purchasing power, even if it supports the demand for Japanese goods and services.

In consumer spending, three-month inflation-adjusted retail sales were slightly positive in March. But real consumer spending continued to decline in the first quarter. Forward-looking indicators of consumer confidence are more encouraging.

Businesses are less optimistic. According to a BOJ survey, firms’ overall assessment of business conditions has improved. But, after a better year for sales in 2023, fewer firms are expecting net sales growth in 2024.

Slight rebound in annual growth

UHERO’s projects annualized quarterly Japanese growth to pick up to the roughly 1–1.5% range this year. Partly because of weakness in the second half of last year, annual growth for 2024 as a whole will come in at 0.8%, firming only slightly to 0.9% in 2025.

“Growth in the 1% range is about the best we can expect for Japan in the near term, and the economy will decelerate further as we move into the second half of the decade,” Ganges said.

The slower growth trend reflects an anticipated decline in the country’s labor force, which has been delayed so far by an impressive and unexpected surge in the labor force participation of women, which has risen from 49% in 2013 to 55% last year. Despite that, a falloff in available labor appears inevitable.

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UHERO is housed in UH ԴDz’s .

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Image of the Week: Shama /news/2024/05/22/image-of-the-week-shama/ Wed, 22 May 2024 18:09:21 +0000 /news/?p=198132 Reading time: < 1 minute This week's image is from UH ԴDz's Samantha Peebles.

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Bird perched in bamboo

This week’s UH News Image of the Week is from University of Hawaiʻi at ԴDz’s Samantha Peebles, an undergraduate student in .

Peebles shared, “White-rumped Shama greeting us with a song on the first day of the Spring semester. Perched on the bamboo stocks of the Art building at UH Manoa.”

Previous Images
Shower tree
Autofluorescence
Cup of Gold
Medea/Antigone Now
Kabuki
All Images of the Week

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Want to get in on the action? The next UH News Image of the Week could be yours! Submit a photo, drawing, painting, digital illustration of a project you are working on, a moment from a field research outing or a beautiful and/or interesting shot of a scene on your campus. It could be a class visit during which you see an eye-catching object or scene.

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Please include a brief description of the image and its connection to your campus, class assignment or other UH connection. By submitting your image, you are giving UH News permission to publish your photo on the UH News website and UH social media accounts. The image must be your original work, and anyone featured in your image needs to give consent to its publication.

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Hawaiian Word of the Week: Kilo /news/2024/05/21/hawaiian-word-of-the-week-kilo/ Wed, 22 May 2024 06:00:17 +0000 /news/?p=198121 Reading time: < 1 minute Kilo—Stargazer, seer, to observe, to examine.

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—Stargazer, seer, to observe, to examine.

Previous ʻōlelo
Puka
Hoʻomaʻemaʻe
Mei
Kupulau
ʻApelila
All ʻŌlelo of the Week

“As we journey through school, work, and home, make sure to kilo the things around you. The signs will reveal more than you expect when you, the kilo, allow yourself the time to kilo.”

—Ikaika Mendez, Hawaiian language and music graduate, Ke Kulanui o Hawaiʻi ma Mānoa (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa)

For more information on other elements of the definition and usage, go to the UH Hilo .

Olelo of the week

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Kahoʻolawe Retreat: ʻŌlelo students dive deep /news/2024/05/21/kahoolawe-olelo-students/ Wed, 22 May 2024 05:00:19 +0000 /news/?p=198104 Reading time: 3 minutes Every March, UH Mānoa and UH Hilo students are invited on a 3-day retreat on Kahoʻolawe and tasked with only speaking Hawaiian.

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land, ocean and mountain in the distance
View of Maui from Kahoʻolawe

Haumāna (students) from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and UH Hilo are leaving the spring semester behind with a renewed outlook on ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language).

Baker seated and laughing
Kumu Kaliko Baker

In an effort to sharpen students’ ʻōlelo skills, UH Mānoa and UH Hilo , invite haumāna to an immersive three-day retreat on Kahoʻolawe every March. The assignment: they must speak only in Hawaiian.

“We want our students to be fluent in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, not just fluent in reading. We want them to be functional linguistically,” said C.M. Kaliko Baker, a kumu ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language associate professor) at Kawaihuelani. “Programs like this allow students these social spaces to engage their ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.

Three people
Kaʻimi Galima-Elvena (far right) works with classmates to haku mele

Mālama (care for) Kahoʻolawe

Since 2014, the I Ola Kanaloa program spearheaded by Kawaihuelani, take haumāna on a huakaʻi (journey) to the uninhabited mokupuni (island) of Kahoʻolawe, which is only accessible by boat and requires visitors to briefly swim to shore with their ukana (baggage) in tow. Known for its deep and complex history, the island, once used as a bombing range for the military, continues to undergo slow and careful restoration.

Students working on low rock wall
Students help maintain sites on the island

“To see the place for the first time, to touch the water for the first time. it filled me with life that I really needed in the moment,” expressed Kaʻimi Galima-Elvena, a UH Hilo and student.

Daily activities on Kahoʻolawe focused on land or ʻāina-based care, and included invasive plant clearing, maintenance of historical sites and traditional protocols/ceremony.

Language of the land

Life changing is how UH Mānoa MFA candidate Ikaika Mendez describes his experience. The Maui native grew up taking in views of Kahoʻolawe from his front porch in Ulupalakua. While on the huakaʻi, Mendez relished the challenge of communicating strictly in Ჹɲʻ’s mother tongue.

“It didn’t matter what level of ʻōlelo you were, because we’re all growing,” said Mendez. “Just to be able to disconnect yourself from everything else and just be fully immersed in the work that we were doing, it’s just a great experience.”

Musician at a keyboard and microphone
Ikaakamai

In language there is life

One of the highlights of the retreat is haku mele (song composition). Students broke into groups and composed songs in three genres: mele aloha (love), mele wahi pana (written for a place or location), and mele maʻi (procreative).

Haumāna research the various places and moʻolelo (stories) of Kahoʻolawe, and then weave it into oli (chant), hula, mele and mele au hou (contemporary Hawaiʻi tunes).

Helping Baker guide haumāna on the spring huakaʻi are additional dedicated kumu ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi who are also recognized recording artists such as Isaac Nāhuewai (known musically as Ikaakamai) from UH Hilo, Kaʻikena Scanlan and Lāiana Kanoa-Wong from Kamehameha Schools Kapālama.

Group of people

“We see that mele is an avenue to showcase the vitality of our language and culture,” said Nāhuewai about the haku mele activity. “We also see how mele is a means to educate our lāhui (nation). The language truly brings life to the ʻāina and to the lāhui and to speak and hear ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi from all huakaʻi participants is truly gratifying.”

Funding for the trip is made possible by Kawaihuelani and at UH Hilo.

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ConFest 2024: Kānaka Maoli, Asian American theatre take spotlight /news/2024/05/21/confest-2024/ Wed, 22 May 2024 01:40:31 +0000 /news/?p=198107 Reading time: 2 minutes ConFest 2024 will feature a play festival, full-length productions, one-on-one training sessions, keynote speeches and more,

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ensemble watching a hula dancer.
UH Mānoa hana keaka (play), Glitter in the Paʻakai, will be among the productions performed. (Photo Credit: Hezekiah Kapuaʻala)

This spring, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is gearing up for an exhilarating showcase of cultural richness with ConFest 2024. From May 24 to 28, the campus will be alive with the vibrant performances and discussions of Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), Pacific Islander and Asian American theatrical artists.

This year’s highly anticipated conference, will call attention to issues impacting Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

In collaboration with the (CAATA), ConFest 2024 promises five days of immersive experiences featuring a play festival, three full-length productions, one-on-one training sessions, keynote speeches, breakout discussion groups and more.

Ikaika mendez acting on stage
Ikaika Mendez is one of more than a dozen UH student actors who will be showcased at ConFest. (Photo Credit: Hezekiah Kapuaʻala)

“ Although the conference theme was selected in 2019, it resonates even stronger today,” said Tammy Hailiʻōpua Baker, director and founder of the UH Mānoa Hawaiian Theatre program. “Kuʻu ʻĀina, ​uʻ Piko, Kuʻu Kahua grounds​ us in our practices and artistry. Here in Hawaiʻi, as it is for many Indigenous peoples, the ʻāina or land is ​our foundation, it is our ancestor. This gathering is a time for us to reflect on the foundations on which we stand and the ancestors that inspire our creative endeavors. It is also a time to reconnect, recenter and rebuild for a thriving tomorrow.”

In 2020, UH Mānoa was scheduled to host the 7th annual ConFest, however the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to postpone.

ConFest 2024 themes

  • Ancestral presence in ʻāina (land), power of kūpuna (elders) and respect for cultural protocols
  • Cost of overtourism
  • Displacement caused by Lahaina fires
  • Military/Navy misuse and contamination of land and water
  • Aftermath of Typhoon Mawar on Guam
  • Gender expression
  • Mental health

“We’re hoping to connect artists and theaters to the major arts funders that will be attending ConFest to remove barriers of funding and access,” said Leilani Chan, co-chair of ConFest 2024.

Ticket prices start at $40 and offer access to an array of performances and discussions. ConFest 2024 is hosted in cooperation with – , at .

.

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UH Hilo golfers selected for PacWest honors /news/2024/05/21/golfers-pacwest-honors/ Wed, 22 May 2024 01:26:45 +0000 /news/?p=198134 Reading time: < 1 minute Members of the ’s and wo’s golf teams received conference honors in addition to Earl Tamiya receiving Coach of the Year.

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6 u h hilo men golfers

Nine University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo golfers—six from the team and three from the —landed on the 2023–24 All-PacWest teams with Head Coach Earl Tamiya receiving his second Coach of the Year honor.

For the ’s team, Dylan Vercan and Nicholas Gomez claimed first team honors. Dysen Park and Kevin Yamashita were named to the second team, and Jacob Torres and Ben Crinella landed on the third team. These honors come after the , and Gomez won the individual championship.

For the wo’s team, Elle Otani and Kiersten Saludares received first team honors, while Tia Kualiʻi made second team honors. .

Read more about the and honors.

3 u h hilo women golfers

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Be prepared for hurricane season ‘24 /news/2024/05/21/hurricane-season-24/ Wed, 22 May 2024 00:50:13 +0000 /news/?p=198084 Reading time: 2 minutes Forecasters see fewer tropical cyclones for the 2024 hurricane season.

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hurricane douglas
Hurricane Douglas, 2020

The 2024 hurricane season begins on June 1, and forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Central Pacific Hurricane Center said the Ჹɲ​ċʻ region could see fewer than normal tropical cyclones. The , released on May 21, predicted one to four tropical cyclones compared to four to five in a normal season.

It is important to note that the forecast is for the number of storms in the region but not specifically for landfall to the state. The 2020 hurricane season was considered below average, yet Hurricane Douglas became the closest on record to pass by the island of Oʻahu.

“As we look towards our coming hurricane season, we must prepare with the real possibility in mind that a hurricane could impact our community,” said Chris Brenchley, director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “Any actions we take now, however small, can make a difference in how resilient our households and communities will be in the event of the storm.”

Hurricane season in Ჹɲ​ċʻ occurs roughly between June 1 and November 30. The Ჹɲ​ċʻ Emergency Management Agency has a page with .

UH resources:

UH encourages all students and employees to prepare for the season before storms approach, when the lines at stores can be overwhelming. UH community members are invited to participate in the UH that are held over the summer.

All members of the UH community are urged to sign up for UH Alert to receive emergency text alerts. If you have already signed up, log in to ensure that contact information is up-to-date.

There is also the Disaster Alert desktop version and app ( | ) with updated information.

Hawaiʻi created a great one-stop resource for disasters in the .

Notifications affecting UH campuses will be posted on the emergency information webpage, as well as on social media:

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Deaf graduate inspires keiki through journey of triumph /news/2024/05/21/amber-lehano-journey-of-triumph/ Wed, 22 May 2024 00:26:26 +0000 /news/?p=198085 Reading time: 4 minutes Lehano discovered that the UH ԴDz College of Education was creating a new cohort that was specific to severe disabilities and autism, which she jumped at the opportunity to apply.

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person in a cap and gown and lots of lei

Amber Lehano has focused her life’s work on helping local keiki overcome a disability she has faced herself. However, the spring 2024 University of Hawaiʻi at ԴDz graduate says the keiki she has taught actually have inspired her to better her life.

Lehano is deaf and deals with significant hearing loss. She was raised in Central Oʻahu, moving between Mililani and Wahiawā, and faced hardships and difficulties growing up.

“I missed out on a lot of conversations, misunderstanding jokes and instructions,” Lehano said. “In school, I was labeled as that ‘problem child.’ I got into fights because I was frustrated all the time and I didn’t understand why. I was scared to ask the teacher and even my parents for help or to repeat themselves because the same reply I got was, ‘I’m not repeating myself. Next time listen.’”

Conquering challenges leads to groundbreaking firsts

person with a cap and gown in a large arena

Part of her way of coping was turning to athletics. While attending Mililani High School, Lehano became the school’s first female football player as a lineman. She then moved to Wahiawā, transferred to Leilehua and became the first female football player there as a defensive guard and tackle, and the first female wrestler. Lehano graduated in 1998 and became a semi-pro wo’s football athlete.

For several years after playing professionally, she didn’t really have much guidance or desire of what she wanted to do with her life.

“It was just job after job. I was a wrestling coach and took care of my son, nieces, nephews and my parents,” Lehano said.

Higher ed key to success

In 2015, Lehano made the decision to pursue higher education and attended . After five years, she earned her associate’s degree in deaf education and wanted to work with deaf children to help them overcome the challenges she faced.

person headshot

Lehano earned a position as an educational assistant at the Hawaiʻi School for the Deaf and the Blind, working in the elementary special education (SPED) class. She worked and continues to work with deaf plus children, “deaf plus” means they also have other disabilities such as autism, CHARGE syndrome (a rare genetic disorder) and blindness.

“Now being able to provide these students with a way to express and communicate their thoughts and emotions makes me feel a sense of accomplishment and comfort to know that what I went through won’t happen to them,” Lehano said.

It was because of helping the keiki and the inconsistency of available SPED teachers that inspired her to continue her higher education journey. Lehano discovered that the UH ԴDz College of Education was creating a new cohort that was specific to severe disabilities and autism, which she jumped at the opportunity to apply.

“It shouldn’t matter of your age or disability,” Lehano said. “If you have a desire to pursue something, just go for it.”

Commencement student marshal honor

two people with lei

Two years in the program, Lehano thrived, eventually being selected as the college’s student marshal for commencement. Student marshals are selected by their school or college’s dean—based on leadership, scholarship and service—to represent and lead their graduating class in the commencement ceremony.

“The College of Education is so honored to have Amber Lehano as the commencement student marshal,” said Dean Nathan Murata. “As a deaf education major, her dedication, passion and determination to excel are evident as she has embarked on an education pathway. Amber is an excellent role model and mentor and the epitome of what perseverance and hard work can do. We are very proud to call her an alum and know that she will achieve great success as she continues to impact the lives of her students.”

“Yes it’s scary, nerve wracking, it may seem like endless, non-stop work, but in the end it turns into the ‘aha’ moment and the feeling of relief that we just did that!” Lehano said.

Check out more stories of our UH spring graduates

Lehano currently resides in Kaimukī with her wife, and works at the Hawaiʻi School for the Deaf and the Blind as a temporary assigned teacher to three haumāna (students). She hopes to continue working at the school for years to come.

“I was able to help these students learn how to communicate their needs and wants,” Lehano said. “They are now able to have a complete conversation expressing their feelings and are able to tell me how their day is going. That is the biggest reward for me to see these students feel accepted and safe. I’m speechless on how to explain this feeling.”

—By Marc Arakaki

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