In the midst of the summer slowdown, there is a group of hard-working individuals gearing up to tackle their latest enterprise on behalf of our campus. Their incredible achievement and dedicated volunteerism are a wonderful tribute to the benefits of service. I’m talking about our student government leaders – the officers and members of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu (ASUHWO).
At the recent spring 2016 commencement, I recognized our outgoing graduating ASUHWO Executive Board members. President Ryan Sommer, Vice President Brieana Williams, and Secretary Joyleanne Santos deserved to be congratulated and thanked for their outstanding contributions to the campus. Their departures opened the door for new leadership, including Executive Board members President Isaiah Baclaan, Vice President Haylie Culp, Secretary Lehua Gould, and Treasurer Elizabeth Gustafson, who constitute the fifth Senate of Kapolei. They were elected by their fellow classmates in April, and are now in the planning stages for the 2016-2017 Academic Year.
Baclaan, who is a Health Care Administration and Psychology major, served as a member of student government for the past two years, most recently as the Social Sciences Senator. He worked on initiatives such as the ASUHWO Lending Library, care packages for finals week, and care folders for Welcome Week. He also served in the PUEO Leadership Program for the past three years, and was selected serve as a legislative intern this past semester.
Culp, who is majoring in Secondary Education, Political Science (Social Studies concentration), is a founding member of American Legion Auxiliary Aloha Girls State, which is hosting its conference on our campus in June. She served as last year’s Education Division Senator, helping to develop a strategic plan to advocate on behalf of the Education students.
Gould is majoring in Accounting and Hawaiian-Pacific Studies. She works as a writing tutor in the Noʻeau Center, which has helped her to redefine her leadership skills. Her goals are “to promote transformational change within our university, to work towards encouraging and bettering our UHWO student body, and to work, not as a superior to my peers, but as a friend who will listen to the concerns of other students, relay the message to my team members, and work together to form solutions.”
Gustafson, a Secondary Education (Social Studies concentration) major, is a former Girl Scout and Venture Crew Scout. She served as the Humanities Division Senator last year, helping to create stress coping mechanisms for individuals during final exams last semester. As the treasurer, her mission is to “make sure our finances are handled appropriately” so that the student fees are used to best benefit the student.”
Christielove Espinosa is your Sophomore Senator. A sophomore majoring in Elementary Education, she served as the Freshman Senator. She prides herself on volunteering for the Humane Society and New Hope Food Bank, service learning, and coaching little league. She plans on organizing outreach work, including changing and creating policies to accommodate student needs.
Shermila Sioson is your Distance Learning Senator. Shermila, a general Business Administration major, served as the President of the Distance Learners Connect Club on Maui and Vice President of the Phi Theta Kappa Maui Chapter. She wants to create opportunities for distance learning students to be “exposed to the real-world industries in addition to just textbooks and sitting in front of a computer.”
Rashad Hicks is your Business Administration Senator. The BUSA major (Accounting concentration), is the President of the Pueo Film Club, and serves as a PUEO leader. This year, he intends to advocate for students’ needs and ask our university to acknowledge the needs of our students. “While many courses are offered online, many of our students are requesting in person courses be offered to meet the many diverse learning needs of our students,” he said in his election pitch.
Lydia Haff is your Education Senator. The Secondary Education and English major is active in the Education Club. She is “dedicated to ensuring that UHWO’s future educators are excited, motivated, and adequately prepared to enter the classroom and excel as teachers.”
The students’ dedication extends beyond their student government work. The Executive Board should be in good standing with a minimum UH West Oʻahu grade point average of 3.0 at the time of nomination and throughout the term of office. All other members of the Senate shall be in good standing and shall have a minimum UH West Oʻahu grade point average of 2.5 at the time of nomination and throughout the term of office. How impressive!
I wish to thank and recognize the hard work of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Judy Oliveira and Student Life Coordinator Rouel Velasco, who provide oversight and guidance to these student leaders.
I admire all student leaders, and their faculty and staff mentors for their willingness to get involved and enhance the UH West Oʻahu campus environment. Every year, the Chancellor has the honor of participating in the ASUHWO swearing-in ceremony, as well as recognition of student leaders of various organizations at events throughout the campus, and I am excited each time to welcome the newest members of our student leadership team. It is my opportunity to get to shake the hands of the future leaders of our state!