Throughout the decades that I’ve worked in administration for the University of Hawaiʻi, I’ve been fortunate to hold a variety of posts and appointments. Despite the change in positions and roles, my belief in the pursuit of education remains constant.
My professional career in education began at the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education at August Ahrens Elementary School (I was also an eighth-grade English teacher at Kawananakoa Middle School), but I soon found myself helping the University of Hawaiʻi – Mānoa’s College of Education as a student-teacher coordinator. Working in higher education among tenured faculty inspired me to pursue my own post-baccalaureate degrees. UH Mānoa allowed me to earn my masters degree in Secondary Education while working full time. Since I received my bachelors and masters degrees from UH Mānoa, I wanted to venture outside the state for my doctorate degree. I chose Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona, which offered an Ed.D., with a focus in Educational Administration and Supervision. It took me away from Hawaiʻi and family (my sons were 9 and 11 at the time) for one academic year bookended by two summers. The decision was difficult, but the support and encouragement of my spouse, mother-in-law, and pediatrician motivated me to pursue my dream and strong desire to be able to provide the best possible education for my students – and for me at the time that meant my degree – and personal sacrifice.
The self-imposed pressures of completing the degree in the shortest time possible were arduous. Not only did I sacrifice time with my family, I also gave up sleep. I remember waking up (when I actually managed to get some sleep) and tears were streaming down my face. But I wasn’t sad – it was the culmination of anxiety and tension—mostly self-prompted. The combination of preparing for my comprehensive exams, completing my internship, coursework, and writing my dissertation prospectus in an accelerated timeline drove me to almost unmanageable stress levels. But I was determined to be on the plane back home to Hawaiʻi and my family on August 6, 1974, which meant a compressed timeline.
If given the choice, I would have done it all over again. I only share my story to emphasize the fact that although my story may not be yours, there are likely many similarities. I understand what students go through when they speak of financial struggles. When I was in Arizona, I took a leave without pay, which placed a burden on my family. I was away from my family for a long period of time – and long distance phone calls at the time were expensive! My past allows me the perspective that each of you may have shared at one point or another – the late nights, stress from studying, sacrificing time with your loved ones, wondering how to pay for school.
I draw upon my experiences when considering the impact of my decisions on our campus. I’ve long been a champion of students, faculty, staff, and administrators, because I’ve held each of those roles one way or another. My desire is to elevate UH West Oʻahu – both the institution and its individuals. The growth of every person is the growth of the institution, and the growth of the institution is the growth of the state.