Sundaes with Students Recap Spring 2018


Here are a few points each of our panelists discussed:

Lance Nunes

Immediately after graduating high school, Lance approached UHM with wide eyes for the freedom college would bring. This freedom can be a positive part of college life, but requires self control. As the valedictorian of his graduating class, Lance and his family were surprised when the transcripts from freshman year showed unsatisfactory grades. One contributing factor to Lance’s struggle with school was taking on a full-time off-campus job. In order to get back on track, Lance quit his full-time job and pursued on-campus work opportunities and organizations. On-campus jobs know the commitment required to be a student and work with students to prioritize academics while still maintaining a job. As a member of Gear Up HUI and Kappa Sigma Fraternity, as well as, working on campus as a Resident Assistant, Lance has been able to seize the many opportunities within his reach while sustaining his academic path.


Alyssa Lapitan

Alyssa academic journey began with a scholarship to Creighton University, however, staying close to family was ultimately more important. Similar to Lance, Alyssa was excited at the possibilities of college and chose to live on campus throughout her academic career. Alyssa is also part of the the Gear Up HUI program and transitioned to the Program Coordinator in 2016. As a way to branch out, Alyssa joined the Phi Mu sorority. This presented many social opportunities that Alyssa believe contributed to her overall happiness at UHM. Though college can be a place of freedom, ask yourself, “what are you really here for?” Remember that academics come first and attending class is the key to being successful in college. In addition to punctuality, Alyssa, takes time to introduce herself to her professors. Professors can help students along their academic path and present opportunities for the professional sector.


Tate Castillo

For Tate, the college journey began in the UH community college system. Because he had always been considered a ‘good student’ in high school, Tate felt he did not need to put in effort to his courses and used his free time to befriend the wrong crowd. When Tate made the transition to UHM, he began to realize how crucial time spent in University can be. These are the years when students can discover their passions and making the most of your time and connections can help students develop the best version of themselves. At UHM, Tate joined a couple RIOs at Shidler College of Business. He found a foundation to catalyze his efforts to achieve greater in the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity and continues to be an active member for Business Executive Society of Tomorrow.  Tate encourages students to believe in their abilities to achieve higher.


Chad Keaulana

At the start of his college career, Chad, would commute from Makaha to UHM daily and found himself exhausted. He decided that taking a year off from school to work and save money would be the best option for him. Chad was driven by his aim to uplift his community and set an example for his younger siblings by being the first in his family to graduate college. By setting aside time to become financially stable enough to live closer to campus, Chad set himself up for success to pursue his degree more comfortably. By sharing his story, Chad feels that he can help other students realize that college may not always be a cookie cutter, four-year path. He encourages students to learn from others and begin networking with peers, mentors, and professors so that the transition into the professional sector is more successful.


Pizza with Professionals Fall 2017 Recap

Thank you for coming out to our Pizza with Professionals event!

Here is a little recap of our speaker’s stories.

Kapiʻolani Ching

Though she has found success in her current professional path, Kapiʻolani was interested in a lot during her early years in college, not sure of the direction she wanted to pursue. By taking exploratory courses, like journalism, she finally found something that struck her interest. Kapiʻolani also held two part time jobs on campus, which helped her find a mentor. Through her mentor, she decided to pursue a career in communications and with hopes of becoming a public information officer. Kapiʻolani stresses the importance of finding a career path you enjoy, but also utilizes your skill set.

Christopher Chow

Christopher graduated from UH Manoa with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. Though the expectations was a career in medicine, He has made the transition to finance in the last 4 years. This may seem like a strange transition however, Christopher credits his exploratory courses and involvement on campus for encouraging his open mindedness. The classes that were not specifically for Biology created learning opportunities for Christopher, helping highlight the importance of making room for classes that interest you whether they are major specific or not. Christopher leaves us with some advice, “Be open to lifelong learning. Education can be concrete, but you have to ebb and flow with life.”


Kathleen Merriam

Kathleen first earned her Psychology degree at the University of Washington with a minor in Sociology because she was interested in the way people work together. Post college, Kathleen lived in New York. After the daunting move from New York to Hawaii, she pursued her Master’s degree at UH Manoa in order to gain the cultural experience of learning in Hawaii. Kathleen discovered she wanted to help improve the Hawaii mental health services, gaining experience through internships. She says that her time as an intern allowed her the opportunity to learn where her strengths were. Though some of her experience was through volunteerism, Kathleen encourages students to ask for certificates to show future employers how time in place of internships was spent. Volunteering was a way for Kathleen to work beyond her comfort zone and learn from those around her.


Be sure to keep an eye out for Mānoa Sophomore Experience events in Spring 2018!

FWF Recap Fall 2017

Thank you to our panelists!

Faculty at Fall 2017 Fraps with Faculty

Faculty at Fall 2017 Fraps with Faculty

Jason Kenji Higa

On his quest to obtain a degree in Biology, here at UH Mānoa, Jason learned that college is not meant to be a “cookie cutter experience.” He learned that being a full-time student for four years straight was not he approach that best fit him. Jason took a gap year. He encourages students to be productive through internships and jobs, while they take a break from school. Jason says that time management is the key to being a successful student and the reality of adulthood. Remember, no single path is right for every student.


Karyl Garland

As an English professor, Karyl strives to teach the importance of skillful writing. In every job writing is involved and what sets a job candidate apart from the rest continues to be writing. “If you can care about writing well, with precision, you’re beyond everyone else who cannot in your field.” Writing can certainly be a powerful tool when done well.


Pia Arboleda

Born and raised in the Philippines, Pia has learned a great deal about the importance of education. Pia learned, through the heartbreak and misdirection in the young adult years of her life, “education is the only thing people cannot take from you.” Substance will set you apart from those focused on their charm, Pia says. Though you have every right to celebrate the smallest accomplishments, be mindful of the areas in which you can grow.

Recap: Pizza with Professionals Spring 2017

We had a blast snacking on pizza and meeting alumni from UHM who are out in the working world!


Jordan Fahmie, an Engineer with AECOM, discussed the truth behind entering the work force post-college. He wants students to keep in mind that they may struggle a little bit coming out of college, but as long as they work hard and remain willing to learn from their experiences they will get where they desire to be. With this in mind think about where you are headed after UHM. What kind of jobs do you want? Fahmie encourages students to take any and every opportunity to shadow professionals and intern to gain a sense of the kind of work environment you will be comfortable with. Fahmie says “Don’t lose sight of what makes you happy.”


Jeanna Chi, a first generation college graduate, found success in being highly involved on campus at UHM. In her undergrad she was a Manoa Peer Advisor, Jeanna says that surrounding herself with the supportive group of people in the Manoa Advising Center really encouraged her to strive for graduation and ultimately academic excellence. Post-college, Jeanna landed an internship at Nordstrom where she excelled, but found herself confused on the career path she was currently on. To Jeanna, this was a learning opportunity. Working outside of your intended career can actually help you decide what is the best fit for you in a job or career. Jenna adds, “always network,” even if it is with those who may not line up with your career goals. If you look towards your managers for support, great opportunities can arise from putting the effort to do well in something you are unsure about.


Christopher Nguyen acquired a B.S. in Microbiology and became a Financial Advisor / Managing Director  for Ka Financial Advisors. While he admits that his current career is not what he imagined for himself, what microbiology demanded from him as a student shaped him into the working individual he is today. Nguyen knows that collaborative work is tough on college students, however, he encourages group work as a way to build skills for the working world. One piece of advice Nguyen would like to stress to students, “Always keep learning… more knowledge, you’re more employable!”

Recap: Fraps With Faculty Spring 2017

On Wednesday April 5th, 2017 we heard very insightful advice from some of UH Mānoa’s faculty! Dr. Brent Sipes and Dr. Jenee Odani shared about their college experiences, gave perspective on college as a member of the faculty and shared advice about how to gain the most from higher education.

Dr. Brent Sipes a professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences earned his Bachelor’s at Purdue University and his Master’s and Doctorate at North Carolina State University. From early on Dr. Sipes knew he wanted to be a professor or scientist and through his extensive education, is now a professor who conducts research at UH Mānoa. As a first-generation college student, Dr. Sipes felt as though it was hard to explain what he had learned to his parents because college was a “different” concept. His major had no application outside of academics, further encouraging him to become a professor and conduct research in his field. Dr. Sipes encourages us to “be a real participant in life” and that starts with joining clubs and exploring your academic environment. He emphasized that success in college is engaging with your professors because they are just as willing to learn from you as you are from them. Dr. Sipes wants students to be proactive in their endeavors whether that be academic or extracurricular.


Dr. Jenee Odani is an Associate Specialist for the Veterinary Extension and a Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program Advisor working in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Sciences. For some time during her college education she wanted to be an engineer and after doing poorly in her calculus course Dr. Odani rethought her academic path. She thought back to what she wanted to be when she was a child, a veterinarian. On her path to obtaining her degree in Zoology at the University of Washington Dr. Odani felt overwhelmed and was not sure if she had chosen the right path, however, by reaching out to the Dean of her department she felt more at ease with her decision. She encourages students to talk to their professors and ask questions when you are feeling concerned about your path. Dr. Odani encourages students to prioritize their education like you would a job because there is so much to learn in the four short years you spend at the university. Joining clubs and expanding your social circle within education is important too because being involved can help shape your career path. Like Dr. Sipes, Dr. Odani wants students interact with heir professors because that is where outstanding letters of recommendation can come from. Dr. Odani wants students to think about the future because if you have a plan for where you want to be in life then you can act now to achieve what you want.

Recap: Sundaes With Students Spring 2017

Thank you for coming out to our first event of Spring 2017! We hope you enjoyed hearing from our panel and the ice cream sundaes!

Sara Samiano

She is a Sophomore, active within the UHM community by serving as American Marketing Association’s Vice President of Communications. Sara shared about her desire to pursue art at an institution away from Hawaiʻi, but found a family within AMA. She is now on track to obtain a double major in Marketing and Management at the Shidler College of Business with a minor in Art! Sara talked about the difficulty of balancing work, school and internships, but getting involved is important. Finding clubs and other places to put your time and energy exercise your ability to prioritize. College is your time to “put yourself out there and put yourself first; be selfish because this is about your future.”

Joanna Galingana

Joanna stressed the importance of over coming the challenges you face. Working three jobs since the age of 16 to fund her college education was tough, but she exemplifies that you can achieve what you work hard for. Being the first in her family to pursue college, Joanna learned all aspects of this venture on her own. She initially pursued a degree within the College of Education, however, she is now finishing her degree in Family Resources! Joanna wants students to be proactive within the UHM community by joining clubs early to gain experience and meet people. This is your time away from the classroom to make connections. Joanna leaves some advice, “Don’t be afraid, be positive, never give up; asking stupid questions will get you answers!”

Tasha Haili-Silva

Tasha has a huge passion for helping others; pursuing a double major in Hawaiian Studies and Family Resources. Throughout college she battled with deciding if college was sincerely the route she wanted to take. When Tasha began Hawaiian Studies courses at Kapiolani Community College, she found passion for Hawaiian Studies because Hawaiʻi is home. After her transfer to UHM, Tasha decided to take on her double major because Family Resources is more related to what she wants to do with her career. Tasha stresses the importance of making friends in your classes because those are the people you will graduate with. Without her friends, Tasha is convinced she would have dropped out of college; they held her accountable when it came to her education.

Pizza with Professionals Fall 2016


Clarence Bermajo
Clarence Bermejo was Born in the Philippines and moved to Hawaii when he was one. He is a proud Waipahu High School graduate. Received his Medical Technology degree from University of Hawaii at Manoa and his Masters in Public Health from George Washington University. Been in the medical field for roughly 10 years going; 5 years as a certified nurses’ aide and 5 years as a medical technologist. Currently Clarence is the Medical Technology Supervisor at Castle Medical Center.

-You want to know what kind of person you want to portray yourself as!
-Learn how to study! Learn how to learn!
-It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. START MAKING CONNECTIONS.
-Do not be a consumer of society, be a contributor!

Sarah Pitts
I graduated in 2006 from UHM, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.
During the summer of 2006, I interned at Spirent Communications, then started my long-term career as an engineer at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard (PHNS) in the Nuclear Test Engineering Division.
The program that I was hired into had a rigorous training program where I became a fully qualified Shift Test Engineer (STE) after two years of employment.  From there I worked as an STE for a little over two years, then transferred to the technical writing branch within the same division.  I was assigned as lead for a first-time job at PHNS and saw it through successfully.  I stayed in the technical branch for about 3 years before taking a position as Branch Head of the Administrative Branch within the Nuclear Test Engineering Division where I oversee divisional workload vs. resources, metrics, self-assessments, staffing and hiring support, and any other additional administrative duties assigned that support the execution of work required of the division.

-Take a conflict resolution course!
-Be open to flexibility: things in life; things at work. Adjust to what life throws at you
-Humility! We all start with no experience and continually build our way up. Be okay with starting small!

Chris Chow

-What you put into college is what u get out of it. Get involved!
-You’ll find that when you get involved and try things you haven’t tried, you meet a lot of people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Mahalo to our Panelists!

Sundaes with Students Fall 2016



Megan Tabata

Megan Tabata is currently a senior pursuing concurrent degrees in Marketing and Women’s Studies. She works on-campus as a communications assistant for Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education and recently completed a marketing internship with Nella Media Group. After transferring from a small liberal arts school in Washington, Megan decided to make the most of her college experience and become heavily involved both on campus and in her community. She formerly served as the 2016 Event Chairperson for Relay For Life of UH Mānoa and co-founded Planned Parenthood Generation Action. She currently serves as Vice President of Professional Development for the American Marketing Association and Public Relations Chairman for Phi Mu Fraternity. She is also a member of National Society of Collegiate Scholars as well as community organizations Ad 2 Honolulu, Bark For Life, and Planned Parenthood Young Leaders. In her free time, she enjoys reading, thrift shopping, and exploring unique and underrated events.

Panelist Advice:

  • Everything is going to work out in the end.
  • Joining clubs makes college enjoyable. Clubs help you to meet people, learn new things, and feel well-rounded.
  • Self and health first.
  • Do what you love. Find good people to motivate and challenge you.
  • Use your first two years to really explore and take GenEds to find your niche.
  • Get out there! Meet people, not just peers, but also professionals. It might end up in an internship.

Brianna Fujii

Aloha! My name is Brianna Fujii. I was born and raised in Ewa Beach, HI. I am a senior majoring in Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Science: Health and Exercise Science in hopes of becoming a sports psychologist. I am a Peer Advisor Leader at the Manoa Advising Center. When I’m not on campus I’m also working at the Kroc Center of Hawaii in Kapolei (not the shoe store, it’s a health and wellness center). In my free time I enjoy hiking, doing yoga, gardening, and spending time with my two dogs. Watching Netflix and trying new yummy food are also some of my favorite hobbies!

Panelist Advice:

  • Stay balanced between school, personal life, and health.
  • Schedule some breaks between classes. Itʻs not like high school. 8:30 AM class will seem early.
  • Donʻt skip classes because sometimes instructors will mention things that are not in the powerpoint or textbook.
  • Join a club or get involved in your major. It helps you get to know people, which is really useful.
  • Surround yourself with motivated friends.
  • Itʻs okay if it takes you more than four years so long as you have a direction and passion for what you are studying.

Maximo (Tony) Mejia

My name is Maximo Mejia and I am a junior working towards my BS in Computer Science. I am also the General Manager for University of Hawaii Productions, the student-run media organization that creates videos promoting the University’s different clubs, sports, events, and much more. I was born in New York City, but spent a little under half of my life going to school in the Philippines. I graduated from high school here in Honolulu’s Roosevelt High School.

Panelist Advice:

  • Networking and talking to people, and not just the people in your major is important. For example, getting internships.
  • Look for a career then find a major that will help you get there.
  • Take a class that you find enjoyable if your other classes are stressing you out.
  • Time management is key. Use your time wisely, for example study in advance and do homework or something productive.
  • “Just because your class starts at noon, it doesnʻt mean your day has to start late. Start your day early.”

Pizza with Professionals Spring 2016

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Everett Ohta

Everett was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi.  He attended UH Mānoa for his undergraduate studies, graduating with a B.S. in Global Environmental Science and a B.A. in Economics.  Four days after submitting his GES undergraduate thesis, Everett began orientation at the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa, later earning his J.D., with a Certificate in Environmental Law.  After serving as a law clerk following graduation, Everett now works as the Lead Compliance Specialist at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, where he conducts advocacy work to protect the rights and practices of Native Hawaiians, as well as Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural environment.  As money and scheduling allow, Everett loves to travel.  One of his favorite trips was a three-week barbecue road trip through the Mid-West and Southern U.S. that he and his wife took shortly after completing the Hawaiʻi bar exam.

– Understand yourself! Keep trying to develop as a person.
– Take advantages of opportunities that you have. Balance school, work, and social life while still keeping your eyes on your prize.
– Make sure you have a good foundation of experiences to draw on.


Blaine Namahana Tolentino

Blaine Namahana Tolentino grew up in Kailua on the east side of Oʻahu. She works at the University of Hawaiʻi Press and graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2009 with a Bachelor’s in English. Blaine has worked as a writer for many publications in Hawaiʻi, including Flux, Mana, and Lei. Committed to the production and preservation of both scholarly and regional knowledge in Hawaiʻi, Blaine has worked as a Hawaiian cultural consultant, communications manager, bookseller, and legislative aid for the Hawaiʻi State Senate.

– Pursue your goals! You’ll have so many strange opportunities that will present itself without your intention. Realizing them and observing how it effects you positively or negatively is important.


Jenny Tanaka

Jenny Tanaka is a native to Hawaii, born and raised in Kailua, O’ahu, which is where she still resides with her husband and two children. She graduated from University Lab School, then followed her passion in the field of education. Jenny received her undergraduate degree in Elementary and Special Education from UH Manoa. Then pursued and achieved a Masters degree in Educational Technology from UH Manoa, College of Education. She currently works at Hawaii Gas, serving as the Learning & Development Manager. Jenny enjoys paricipating in ocean sports; surfing and canoe paddling. In fact, she had the privilege to cross the Kaiwi/Molokai channel three times in the Na Wahine O Kekai canoe race and Canoe sailed from O’ahu to Kauai.

– Do your work first, and then go out and have fun!
– Don’t wait until your fourth year in college to get experience. Teach out to your professors and resources the University offers to get those experiences.
– Everything is changing around us, we all have to change, adapt, and adjust in order to grow.

Past Panelists

Achievement Ceremony Recap

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 10.56.25 AMThe Manoa Sophomore Experience held its first “Achievement Ceremony for First- and Second-Year Students” on Wednesday, April 30th. The event, which took place from 2:30-4:30PM in the Campus Center Ballroom, featured a quick program with guest appearances by some very important individuals of the UHM community.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 10.58.47 AMUpon checking in, attendees were presented with a packet containing an Achievement Ceremony program, event evaluation and an informational flyer about MSE, as well as name cards. Attendees and their guests were then directed to find seats at the festively decorated tables.

The ballroom tables were configured in two long rows, and volunteers worked really hard to lay out red and white tablecloths, mason jar centerpieces and balloons. Each mason jar was filled with red mints, red lollipops and inspirational quotes in the shapes of stars and circles.

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Around 3PM, the attendees and guests had a chance to fill their plates with food from Aloha Gourmet (located at Paradise Palms). Aloha Gourmet brought an amazing buffet of food, including fruit salad, cold noodles, Thai chicken wraps, mochiko chicken, special plantation iced tea and our favorite, chocolate covered strawberries! There was enough delicious food for everyone to help themselves to multiple servings, and there wasn’t a hungry tummy in the room by the conclusion of the program.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 10.57.40 AMThe program was emceed by Richard Mizusawa, president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii. He opened by talking about the Manoa Sophomore Experience before handing the mic to special guest speaker, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Assistant Professor from the Institute for Teacher Education. Dr. Soetoro-Ng spoke candidly about her experience as a college student, and her honesty, insight and perspective made her speech  highlight of the ceremony.

Dr. Ron Cambra, Assistant Vice Chancellor in the Office of Undergraduate Education, spoke next about the importance of persevering before he, Dr. Soetoro-Ng and President Mizusawa called students up to be recognized for finishing their first or second year of college. MSE and Outreach College scholarship winners were also recognized.

Following the student recognition portion, Dr. Cambra led the attendees in a rousing student pledge to stay in college and finish their education at UHM. His enthusiasm and willingness to lead the charge surely energized students for finals week.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 10.59.12 AMThe end of the program was topped off by a centerpiece giveaway before students were directed back to the check in desk to pick up their certificates of recognition. The program ended early, which means the students had a chance to take extra time to study for finals (or celebrate their achievements).

Post-event evaluations indicate that it was a successful event that accomplished what it was intended for. Here are a few of the comments we received from the evaluations:

What did you like about this event?

  • “Food and the decorations. Also enjoyed the speaker’s speeches.”
  • “It was well decorated and catered. I was surprised by the professional setup.”
  • “The guest speaker was great and gave me hope. I loved the food and meeting undergrads like me.”

Other comments:

  • “It was small and cute. Great speeches. Really valuable knowledge from people who have been there before.”
  • ” 🙂 “
  • “This is a good event!”
  • “Loved it! Nice getting recognized.”

The Manoa Sophomore Experience would like to thank a bunch of individuals and organizations that helped make this event a success: Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Dr. Ronald Cambra, Richard Mizusawa, Aloha Gourmet, The Associated Students of the University of Hawaii (ASUH), and Outreach College. Also, a big mahalo to the entire MSE committee for their hard work and dedication, as well as all of the volunteers who came to support the Achievement Ceremony.

[Note for students who would like to pick up their certificates: Please come to the Honors Program Office, located in Sinclair Library, to retrieve your certificate(s). If you have trouble finding the Honors Program, please ask the front desk of the library.]

Although the Achievement Ceremony was the last MSE event of the semester, there’s still plenty more to come in Fall 2014! Look out for the second edition of our popular “Fraps & Sweets” and “Happy Hour” events in October and November, as well as our new “Sundaes and Student Panel” event in September! “Like” our Facebook page for the latest on those and additional opportunities.